• Internazionali BNL d'Italia

Djokovic survives scare in Rome

ESPN staff
May 17, 2012
Novak Djokovic was made to work hard for his win © PA Photos

Novak Djokovic avoided an early upset at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome after the top seed was forced to battle from a set and a break down to beat Juan Monaco.

Djokovic appeared to be struggling with the blustery conditions at the Foro Italico as he lost the opening set, but showed impressive strength of character to rally for a 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory.

Clay-court specialist Monaco, who has claimed two titles on the surface already this season, had never beaten Djokovic in five previous encounters, but he made a bright start, consolidating an early break with a solid service hold to take a 4-2 lead.

Djokovic, who made an uncharacteristic 22 unforced errors in the first set, slammed his racket on the ground in frustration when the Argentine wrapped up the opener. And things did not get much better for the Serb when the world No. 15 grabbed an early break in the second.

But the defending champion demonstrated the battling qualities that have become synonymous with his ascent to world No. 1, winning 20 of the next 24 points to break back and storm through set to force a decider.

After an evenly-matched start to the final set, Djokovic grabbed the crucial break to lead 5-3 and coolly served out for the victory. He awaits Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals, who beat Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-1.

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