Novak Djokovic battled his way into the quarterfinal of the Rome Tennis Masters after he came back from a set down against Argentine Juan Monaco, winning 4-6 6-2 6-3.
The Serbian was going into the match with a 5-0 head to head record against Monaco, having won their last encounter at the 2012 Miami Masters semifinal.
But Monaco has been playing some high quality tennis this year, despite missing the last couple of tournaments due to an ankle injury that he suffered at the Monte Carlo Masters.
In very windy conditions, the Argentine earned himself the first break points of the match and managed to convert the very first one to a 3-2 lead in the first set. Djokovic averted two set points when serving to stay in the set at 3-5 and had one break opportunity in the next game to level the score, but Monaco stood tall and held to close out the set.
Monaco carried the momentum into the second set and took Djokovic’s serve in the third game for a 2-1 lead. But from then onwards it was all about the world no.1, who stepped up a gear and didn’t allow his opponent any more games as he captured the set 6-2.
Despite the tough conditions, the Rome crowd witnessed some superb rallies, Monaco pushing the defending champion to the limit. Unfortunately for the Argentine, Djokovic seemed to have found his rhythm again and struck in the 8th game of the deciding set to go 5-3 up. He then went on to serve out the match and with this win, he booked his place in the quarterfinals.
Also through to the quarters is Czech’s Berdych after defeating Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (3) 6-3.