World No. 1 Novak Djokovic praised the game of world No. 97 Dominik Koepfer following their Rome Masters quarterfinal clash. Koepfer, who was playing his first Masters quarterfinal, was playing good tennis against Djokovic as he pushed the No.
1 seed into a three-setter. But 17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic survived a tough Koepfer challenge as he edged out the German 6-3 4-6 6-3 to reach the Rome semifinal. "[Dominik] has a good pop on the serve, so you have to guess," Djokovic said, per the ATP website.
"He steps in when he is feeling the ball, he steps in on both the forehand and backhand and moves well. I think his game is really ideal for this surface and him reaching the quarter-finals proves he is in good form”.
Djokovic gives credit to Koepfer
Djokovic blew a two-break lead in the first set but then broke Koepfer for the third time in the eighth game to win the opener. Koepfer lost his serve in the opening game of the second set but worked his way back into the set as he broke Djokovic twice to force a decider.
But Djokovic kept his focus as he broke Koepfer twice in the third set to avoid an upset. "Credit to [Dominik] for fighting back, but I have myself to blame for putting myself in a position to play a third set,” Djokovic said.
“I was a set and a break [up] and everything was looking great… I just wasn’t managing to make that final shot, that final step to win in straights”. Djokovic plays next against rising Norwegian star Casper Ruud, who edged out No.
4 seed Matteo Berrettini. "Clay is definitely [Casper’s] preferred surface. This is where he feels most comfortable. [It is the] semi-finals and it is anybody’s game… I’ll do some homework and be ready for that one,” Djokovic said.
Ruud became the first Norwegian to have ever made a Masters semifinal. "It feels great [to be in a Masters 1000 semi-final], obviously. These [are the] things that all players work hard for every day in practice, [to] try to make it far in the big tournaments and big events,” Ruud said after making history.
"This is my first time in the semi-finals and today was even my first time in the quarter-finals. I'm just enjoying the moment, I guess. I'm in a good flow. I have gained good confidence in my game this week”.