15-Love: Djokovic Extends Perfect Rome Quarter-final Record

In his 15th appearance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Novak Djokovic advanced to his 15th quarter-final at the Foro Italico on Thursday.

The World No. 1 broke serve in five of his seven return games to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-1 and stretch his perfect record of quarter-final showings in the Italian capital. Djokovic, who owns five Rome titles, improved to 57-9 at the ATP Masters 1000 after a dominant performance on Centre Court.

After dropping serve in the opening game of the match, Djokovic consistently neutralised Davidovich Fokina’s serve with deep returns. The Serbian was able force his opponent into defensive positions in baseline rallies and he benefitted from 30 unforced errors from his opponent to charge through to the last eight in 70 minutes.

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“I thought I played well. He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him,” Djokovic said in his post-match interview.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

Djokovic will face Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-finals. The fifth seed moved past Italian No. 1 and Madrid runner-up Matteo Berrettini 7-6(3), 6-2 on Grand Stand Arena. Djokovic owns a 4-2 ATP Head2Head record against Tsitsipas, which includes a five-set victory in last year’s Roland Garros semi-finals.

“My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic said before Tsitsipas’ victory. “Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo… I am obviously going to do my best to win that match.”

Reilly Opelka entered Rome on a six-match losing streak, but the American advanced to his second Masters 1000 quarter-final on Thursday with a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory against Aslan Karatsev. The 23-year-old landed 18 aces and saved two set points at 4/6 in the first-set tie-break to move past the in-form Russian in one hour and 37 minutes. Opelka will meet Federico Delbonis in the last eight.

The Argentine reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final with a 7-6(3), 6-1 win against Felix Auger-Aliassime. Across main draw and qualifying matches, Delbonis owns a 20-7 record on clay this season.

Did You Know?
Djokovic has won his past seven quarter-finals in Rome. The World No. 1’s most recent Rome quarter-final defeat came in 2013, when he was beaten in three sets by Tomas Berdych. Djokovic owns an 11-3 record in Rome quarter-finals.