Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic’s love affair with Rome continued when the five-time champion won his 60th victory at the Italian Open 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday over Aslan Karatsov.
The Serb has never lost before the quarterfinals of the tournament, and now he has only three wins left to enter the club with 1,000 wins.
“He probably has the biggest calf in tennis. He is a very strong guy, just solid from the baseline,” Djokovic said of Karatsov, who is ranked 35th.
“With him you never know. When he feels the ball, he can be very dangerous because he is so close to the line, putting pressure on his opponents.”
Karatsov made 36 unforced errors in the match, and Djokovic took care to use those errors.
“He didn’t have many points today, and gave me a couple of breaks in the first and second.
“I will definitely accept this victory. It is a victory in sets against a quality opponent, and I look forward to the next challenge,” the Serb continued.
Djokovic, who holds the record 369th week as the number one in the world, must reach at least the semifinals in Rome to stay in his top rankings and not overtake Daniil Medvedev.
In the 1/8 finals, Djokovic will meet compatriot Laszlo Gere or three-time main champion Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic started with a break in the serve on the way to the lead with a score of 2-0, but Karatsov in the shortest possible time eliminated his deficit to equalize.
The first sowing intensified the pressure to make a break again in the eighth game, and stylishly closed the set, showcasing his volleyball skills in front of a brisk Roman crowd.
In the second set, Djokovic won 4-0 and won the first opportunity in the 90th minute to improve the score to 2-1 in the butt match against Karatsov.
Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanas Tsitsipas will meet for the second time in seven days after the Bulgarian beat American qualifier Brendan Nakasima 6-3, 6-4 in the first round on Tuesday.
It was Dimitrov’s 10th victory in the Masters 1000 tournament of the season, and he will be looking for only a second victory over Tsitsipas in their sixth career meeting with each other.
Argentine Diego Schwartzman retained two match points and recovered from a 15-point losing streak in a clash with Miomir Ketsmanovich in uniform before breaking into the second round with a score of 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3). . The next 12th sowing number will meet with the lucky Marcos Chiron.
British ninth seed Cameron Nori retained 4/4 break points in his 6-4, 6-4 victory over local wildcard Luka Nardi and then played with former US Open champion Marin Cilic.
In the women’s tournament, the finalist of Madrid Jessica Pegula won her campaign, beating the 25th racket of the world Ludmila Samsonova with a score of 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reached the second round.
Pegula, who finished second in the Spanish capital on Saturday, faced 38 winners over major Samsonova to stage a match in the final of 32 matches with Ukrainian Angelina Kalinina in uniform.
The 13th seeded Pegula, who played against Samsonova with a tightly tied left thigh, reached the quarterfinals in Rome last season and improved the number of wins and losses in 2022 to 18-9.
Former French Open champion and seeded No. 11 Elena Astapenko was sent off by American qualifier Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-3 in just one hour and 10 minutes.
American 32nd racket Amanda Anisimova, former Roland Garros semifinalist, will face Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the next round after recovering in the second set and defeating Czech qualifier Theresa Martintsova 6-2, 0-6. – 4.