Italian Open: Novak Djokovic reaches last 16 in Rome defeating Grigor Dimitrov


Novak Djokovic continued his Italian Open title defence with a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-1 victory over Bulgarian 26th seed Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

Djokovic, who will lose his world No 1 ranking at the end of the tournament to Carlos Alcaraz, overcame a sluggish start and a late comeback attempt by Dimitrov to book a place in the last 16.

Both players surrendered serve early in the first set before Djokovic raised his game to pull away for a 4-1 lead, and an 11th victory over Dimitrov in 12 career meetings began to look inevitable.

Dimitrov, whose only win over the Serbian world No 1 came 10 years ago in Madrid, produced a tight hold but could not prevent his opponent from running away with the opening set and grabbing the advantage in the next.


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The former world No 3 did, however, then reel off four-straight games from 2-4 down to ultimately claim the second set and force a decider. But Djokovic responded strongly and let out a roar after securing a double break in the third and held firm to advance.

The 35-year-old could potentially face British No 1 Cameron Norrie in the fourth round, as he awaits the winner of his third-round clash with Marton Fucsovics.

Elsewhere, Daniil Medvedev posted his first career win in Rome by beating Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4 6-2. The Russian had lost his opener in his previous three appearances at the tournament.

Also, Holger Rune eliminated Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2 and Stefanos Tsitsipas needed just two games to finish off a second-round win over Nuno Borges, 6-3, 6-3, in a match that had been suspended due to rain on Saturday.