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Djokovic Reaches Rome QFs, Where Danger Lurks

Rome, Italy

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is the defending champion in Rome.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down Thursday against Argentine Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to keep his title defence alive at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Rome. Djokovic, who will turn 25 next week, advanced to the quarter-finals, where he will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

After dropping the first set to Monaco, who made an impressive comeback from an ankle injury this week, Djokovic faced – and saved – just one break point in the final two sets of the match.

"Mental strength is what is needed, especially when you are playing against a player who has already won two tournaments on this surface this year already and is playing with confidence," Djokovic said. "There are many thoughts  that go through your head [when you are down a set] but you try and focus and think positive... I have enough experience to know what to do and I used it today."

In other early Thursday results, last week’s Madrid finalist and seventh seed Tomas Berdych defeated Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6(3), 6-3 after saving four of the five break points he faced. Sixth seed David Ferrer dropped just nine points in the opening set against Frenchman Gilles Simon en route to a 6-0, 7-6(5) win.

Italian No. 1 Andreas Seppi thrilled home country fans as he fought off six match points to prevail against Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka 6-7(1), 7-6(6), 7-6(6) after three hours and 20 minutes. He saved the first match point at 5-6 in the second set tie-break, another two down 15/40 at 4-5 in the third set, and three in the third set tie-break.  

It was the first time since the tie-break was introduced at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in 1971 - more than 2,500 singles matches played - that all three sets were decided in a tie-break.

The 28-year-old Seppi, who had reached the Round of 16 for the first time in eight Rome appearances, will face World No. 2 Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

Seppi had re-entered the Top 30 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time since 2008 on Monday. He won the clay-court title in Belgrade earlier this month (d. Paire).

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