Dominating the Masters 1000 series year after year, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have conquered almost every notable record of this series. Roger, Rafa and Novak have shared 98 Masters 1000 titles since 2002, leaving all the rivals behind and raising the bar to the level that will never be repeated at the nine premium ATP events.
Like in every other segment, the mentioned trio is way ahead of all the others when we talk about the Masters 1000 quarter-finals, with Rafael Nadal standing at the top with 93. The latest one came in Rome this week, adding another quarter-final in the battle against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who are on 87 and 85, respectively.
Novak is also in contention for the title at Foro Italico, moving closer to Roger Federer and hoping to move in front of him in 2020. In the third round, Djokovic had to dig deep against Filip Krajinovic, advancing to his 14th consecutive Rome quarter-final following a 7-6, 6-4 triumph in two hours and seven minutes.
The opening set went back and forth for almost 90 minutes, with both players giving their best to prevail. After a titanic battle, Novak claimed it in the tie break, winning the second set more quickly to move into the last eight.
On Saturday, Djokovic had to work even harder, losing a set against a qualifier Dominik Koepfer but scoring a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and ten minutes, moving into the 69th Masters 1000 semi-final. Novak got broken four times from as many chances offered to the German, creating 21 opportunities on the return but seizing only six, enough to go through despite hitting 24 winners and 38 unforced errors.
Novak had the upper hand in the first four games, struggling ever since and having to fight to avoid a shocking defeat. World no. 1 held at love in the first game, converting the fourth break chance in game two for an early lead.
The four-time Rome champion confirmed the advantage and forged a visible gap after 12 minutes.
Novak Djokovic advanced to his 85th Masters 1000 quarter-final in Rome.
The German netted a forehand in the fourth game to experience another break and send the Serb further in front.
Out of sudden, Novak started to spray errors from that moment, landing a backhand beyond the baseline to suffer a break and missing a break chance a few minutes later. With no rhythm in his strokes, Djokovic got broken at 4-2 following a loose backhand, having no room for errors in the rest of the set and securing another break that sent him 5-3 up.
From 30-0 down in the ninth game, Novak claimed four straight points to clinch the set with a forehand winner after 38 minutes. Dominik got broken at love at the beginning of the second set, firing two service winners to save two break chances in game three to avoid an even bigger deficit.
After holding in game five, the German remained within one break deficit, breaking Novak at love to level the score at 3-3. After breaking his racquet, the Serb earned code violation and fell 4-3 behind when Koepfer held with a smash winner at the net.
Djokovic brought the result back to 4-4, hoping for another break in the next one. Battling for every point, Dominik repelled three break opportunities and held with a service winner to prolong the encounter against the rival who was far from his best.
Serving at 4-5, Novak sprayed a forehand error to suffer a break and hand the set to a qualifier, finishing the set with ten winners and 16 errors. The German had the upper hand in the deciding moments in those minutes, surviving four break chances at the beginning of the final set to avoid an early setback.
Djokovic held at love in the second game and moved in front after a double fault from Dominik, confirming the break with a hold at 15 to move 3-1 up. A perfect drop shot secured the sixth game for the Serb after deuce, with Koepfer staying within one break deficit after a service winner a few minutes later.
Novak landed a forehand down the line winner at 4-3 to remain in front, forcing Dominik to serve for staying in the match. Koepfer saved a match point with a serve & volley before Novak converted the second chance with a volley winner at the net to seal the deal and advance into the semis.