Novak Djokovic wins thriller against Grigor Dimitrov

Novak Djokovic during a match
Novak Djokovic in action

Novak Djokovic overcame Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in a thrilling Round of 32 match in Rome that was his 1050th tour-level victory.

Djokovic found patches of his best level as he continues his defence of the Rome title after skipping Madrid with injury.

When Djokovic held a 6-3, 4-2 lead against Dimitrov, it seemed as though he would easily advance to the third round but the Bulgarian showed his infamous never-say-die spirit to give the world No 1 some anxious moments.

While Dimitrov rode a wave of momentum to a run of four game wins in succession to force a decider at the Foro Italico, Djokovic was able to expertly raise his level to reach the fourth round.

“[I was] very solid. I think I could have won in straight sets,” said Djokovic after the win.

“I was a set and 4-2 up and had a pretty decent forehand in the middle of the court at deuce on his serve and missed that.

“He held his serve well, we had new balls the next game, I did a double fault, the crowd got into it and got behind him and of course the energy of the place and the of the match changed.

“I dropped my level a bit, but luckily I managed find it right away in the first game [of the third set], made that crucial break and kind of shifted the momentum to my side, so I’m really pleased with the way I closed out the match.”

There aren’t many players who have the confidence of Djokovic, with good reason, and he improved to 11-1 in his head to head with Dimitrov.

Djokovic credited his rivalries with helping him learn how to win in tight matches and pressure situations.

“Luckily for me in my career I managed to win more matches than those that I lost when I was facing difficult circumstances,” said Djokovic when the interviewer asked about his ability to produce his best under pressure.

“I also lost a lot of matches, particularly in the beginning of my career. For a few years, whenever I needed to make that final step or win a Slam, I didn’t manage to do that, so I learned a lot.

“I got stronger because of the rivalries, particularly with [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal and [Andy] Murray. Just staying the course, staying patient and believing in the process and the journey… Understanding what work for you best… Mentally and also physically and emotionally, and then sticking to it.”

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