Rome, September 18
Novak Djokovic was being pushed so laborious within the first set by Filip Krajinovic that he urgently wanted someplace to sit down down and catch his breath.
Since it was 5-5 and never time for a changeover, he plopped down on one of many new bins put in behind the courtroom for gamers’ towel — that are there as a result of ball youngsters are not offering towel service amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It would take Djokovic fairly a bit extra work earlier than he lastly closed out the primary set in 1 hour, 28 minutes and went on to complete off a 7-6(7) 6-Three victory for a spot within the quarterfinals for the 14th straight yr.
“It was a great battle,” mentioned Djokovic, who’s enjoying his first match since being defaulted from the US Open.
“Definitely one of the longest sets I’ve ever played. We went toe to toe. It could have gone a different way.”
With the temperature on Campo Centrale hovering to 32 levels Celsius, Djokovic mentioned that “we each struggled bodily in that first set”.
The set was so shut that each gamers received the identical precise variety of factors — 61 — and Djokovic did not shut it out till his fifth set level when Krajinovic’s forehand sailed lengthy.
Shadows moved throughout the courtroom within the second set.
“That allowed us to feel better,” mentioned Djokovic.
“But I’m very pleased with this first set. There were some very long rallies. This is what clay tennis is all about.”
Djokovic, a four-time Rome champion, will subsequent play certainly one of two qualifiers, both 18-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.
Later, nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal was enjoying Dusan Lajovic for a spot within the final eight. AP