World no. 1 and four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic is through to the quarter-final at Foro Italico, prevailing over Filip Krajinovic 7-6, 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes. Novak worked hard to earn the 52nd victory in Rome, the 362nd at the Masters 1000 level, improving his 2020 score to 28-1.
Novak saved five out of six break points, delivering three breaks and sealing the deal in straight sets after a massive opening set that could have gone to either side. Djokovic had 32 winners and 33 unforced errors, taming his shots nicely and prevailing in the most extended exchanges to emerge at the top and remain on the title course.
The opening set offered a titanic battle that saw two early breaks and numerous deuces in almost every service game. Djokovic wasted two set points in the tenth game and claimed it 9-7 in the tie break after nearly 90 minutes.
Krajinovic earned three break chances in the first game following a backhand error from Novak, converting the third when world no. 1 sprayed a forehand mistake. Filip had to work hard in his opening service game as well, fending off three break opportunities with brave hitting but landing a forehand long on the fourth to introduce Djokovic to the scoreboard.
The next two games offered six deuces, with Krajinovic repelling three break points in game four to stay in touch. At 3-3, Djokovic fended off two break points, struggling for almost every point and holding after a couple of deuces in game nine for a 5-4 lead.
Serving to stay in the set, Krajinovic denied two set points with classy winners, bringing the game home after four deuces to prolong the set that had already lasted for over an hour! Both Novak and Filip held at 30 in games 11 and 12 to set up a tie break that saw 16 points.
Filip grabbed two mini-breaks to forge a 4-1 advantage but it wasn't to be for him, standing two points away from the set thrice but falling 9-7.
Novak Djokovic defeated Filip Krajinovic in over two hours.
In the 16th point, Novak converted the third set point after a grueling 88 minutes, overpowering a compatriot and gaining a boost ahead of set number two.
Krajinovic held with a drop shot winner in the first game of the second set, followed by Djokovic who closed the second game at 15 to level the score. Filip netted an easy forehand in the third game to suffer the first break since the start of the encounter, with Novak securing the advantage with another comfortable hold that pushed him 3-1 up.
Ready to fight until the end, Krajinovic grabbed the fifth game with a service winner to remain within one break deficit, unable to do anything on the return in game six as Novak held with a backhand down the line winner.
An unreturned serve kept Krajinovic within one break deficit in game seven, with Djokovic moving 5-3 up with another backhand down the line winner, forcing the rival to serve for staying in the match. Novak grabbed another break in that ninth game when Filip sent a forehand long, celebrating the win and moving into the quarters.