Djokovic sweeps into Italian Open quarters in front of ‘great’ Rome crowd
- Updated: May 14, 2021
ROME: World number one Novak Djokovic swept into the Italian Open quarter-finals on Thursday (May 13) with a straight-sets win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in front of spectators at the Foro Italico.
The five-time Rome champion won 6-2, 6-1 in 70 minutes against the 48th-ranked Spaniard, with the venue filled to 25 percent of capacity for the first time amid the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
“It was not good, it was great. I missed the crowd,” said the 33-year-old, who next plays Stefanos Tsitsipas in a rematch of last year’s French Open semi-final which the Serbian won.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas ended the run of home hope Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in one hour and 36 minutes.
“It always feels like home coming back to Rome,” said Djokovic, who has never failed to reach the quarter-finals in his 15 appearances in the clay-court event.
“Honestly, with the amount of love and appreciation that I get and respect from people here, not just on the court, but outside in the organisation here, from the drivers, the restaurant, people in hotel, everyone is really super kind to me.
“Maybe it helps that I speak Italian. Probably does. I love Italy. Who doesn’t?
“Each year the love affair grows even more because the bond is stronger and stronger.
“Hopefully I can feel a little bit of that love more tomorrow so I can keep on progressing in the tournament.”
After losing his opening service game, Djokovic powered back with five breaks of serve, outclassing his rival, despite a late fightback, to seal the win on his sixth match point.
“He started well, but I managed to break back straight away and establish the control and consistency,” said the 18-time Grand Slam winner.