Djokovic Gaining Steam In Rome
Novak Djokovic lives in Monte-Carlo, but he again looked very much at home at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome on Wednesday. The four-time champion sped past Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, playing off the Italian crowd in the intimate Court Pietrangeli to advance in 77 minutes.
“I thought the atmosphere was unique, phenomenal. It's one of the most beautiful tennis courts in the world,” Djokovic said. “I have great memories there. And I think it's so nice to play in front of the people that also don't have to buy ticket for Court [Centrale]... It's very intimate.”
The straight-sets win sets up a chance for Djokovic to reach his first ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season on Thursday, when he faces Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The Spaniard grit his teeth in a strong service performance to beat eighth seed John Isner, who hit 30 aces, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(5) in two hours and 53 minutes. Isner, who beat Ramos-Vinolas in the 2017 first round 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-1, captured his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at this year’s Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Zverev).
Djokovic leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Ramos-Vinolas 5-0, including two matches on clay, and has won all 14 sets they've played. “Isner is in great shape, but Ramos is always a tricky guy to play against on slow clay,” Djokovic said.
The Serbian, who speaks Italian, talked earlier this week about how he feels comfortable in Rome, and it has showed this week. He breezed past Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3 on Monday, and he looked confident during his second-round match as well.
When Djokovic hit a forehand that Basilashvili couldn't track down to clinch the first set, he raised his arms in celebration, igniting roars from the packed show court. Basilashvili couldn't put the close opener behind him and started slowly in the second set, double faulting twice and getting broken to love at 0-1. From there, Djokovic rolled, not facing a break point in the second set after saving four in the opener.