The 24-year-old Nikola Milojevic entered the main draw in Moscow as a lucky loser, replacing the top seed Daniil Medvedev and facing the 19-year-old Alen Avidzba in the second round. The Serb scored a 7-5, 6-0 victory in an hour and 29 minutes for the first ATP quarter-final, coming from a 4-2 down in the opener and rattling off 11 of the last 12 games to march towards the finish line against the rival barely ranked in the top-500.
Avidzba opened that advantage in the first set and managed to break back to level the score at 5-5 before Nikola shifted into a higher gear, taking the opener 7-5 and delivering a bagel in set number two to set the clash against Andrey Rublev.
The 6th seed ousted a qualifier Egor Gerasimov 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes for the most extended and most exciting clash of the Thursday's schedule in Moscow. Rublev repelled six out of seven break chances he faced, staying focused after losing the second set to dominate in the decider and advance in front of the home fans with a double break in the third set.
The Belarusian delivered one good hold after another in the first set, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net and wasting four break points in the eighth game after much-needed winners from Rublev who stayed in touch until the tie break that he claimed 7-3 after a service winner.
They traded breaks at the beginning of the second set and served well throughout the remaining games to set another tie break that Egor claimed 8-6 with a service winner, sending the match into a decider where he earned two break chances in the fourth game.
Staying focused, Andrey fended them off and grabbed a break in the next game to open a 3-2 gap and gather the momentum ahead of the remaining games. The Russian held at love to cement the break and scored another one after a forehand error from Gerasimov that sealed his fate in this encounter.
Serving for the victory at 5-2, Andrey produced another commanding hold to cross the finish line and advance into the quarter-final, where he should be the favorite against Milojevic. The 3rd seed Marin Cilic took down a compatriot Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 7-6 in an hour and 23 minutes for the first quarter-final since Washington.
Marin saved all three break points he faced and stole Karlovic's serve twice in the opener to take it in less than 30 minutes. Ivo fended off a couple of break chances in the first game of the second set and had the opportunity to move in front at 4-3 when Marin repelled two break points with winners, with the younger Croat taking the momentum and closing the set 7-5 in the tie break to stay on the title course.
Jeremy Chardy needed 63 minutes to dismiss the 8th seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4, dropping 14 points in his games and scoring one break in each set for the best result since Kitzbuhel in August.