A Serbian gray Novak Djokovic, number 1 in the world ranking, had to suffer this Friday to beat 7-6 (7) and 6-3 to his compatriot and friend Filip Krajinovic and qualify for the quarterfinals of the 1,000 ATP Masters in Rome.
Djokovic, a four-time champion on Roman clay, seemed lacking in brilliance, slow to move on the track and with little success in his shots, but he also overcame this bad day and triumphed after two hours and nine minutes on the track central of Italic Forum.
The Serbian, who returned to compete in Rome after being disqualified from US Open For inadvertently hitting a linesman, he forgave up to ten of his thirteen break points to a Krajinovic who went on to lead 4-1 in the first-set tiebreaker before surrendering 9-7.
Surprisingly, Nole bet many times on a few drops to get out of the longest points, against an opponent who was very profitable when he could unleash his excellent backhand. However, those dropouts did not pay much dividends to the world number 1, who drew on experience to overcome the most difficult moments.
And it is that for Djokovic this Friday was a delicate match, against a rival with whom he has a strong bond of friendship and whom he helped at the beginning of his career. In addition, Krajinovic had beaten him in the only precedent, although it dated back to a 2010 match in Belgrade, when Nole retired.
The Serbian increased the level in the second sleeve and closed it 6-3 with more authority to get out of a difficult moment and get into the quarterfinals, in which he will face the winner of the duel between the Italian Lorenzo Musetti, aged 18 and 249 in the world, and German Dominik Koepfer, number 97 in the ranking.