Top-seeded Novak Djokovic kicked his game into a higher gear in the final set as he recorded a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
The Serbian struggled in the second set before turning things around to improve to 11-1 all-time against the 26th-seeded Dimitrov.
“I dropped my level a bit, but luckily I managed to find it right away in the first game (of the third set), made that crucial break and kind of shifted the momentum to my side,” said Djokovic, “so I’m really pleased with the way I closed out the match.”
Both players had seven aces but Dimitrov had a 28-21 edge in winners. Djokovic made just 10 unforced errors while Dimitrov had 23 to go with six double faults.
Djokovic will next face No. 13 seeded Cameron Norrie of Great Britain. Norrie posted a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.
Among other third-round winners on Sunday were No. 4 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, No. 7 Holger Rune of Denmark and No. 8 Jannik Sinner of Italy.
Ruud had 41 winners against 11 unforced errors while posting a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (0) victory over Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan.
Rune battled Italian Fabio Fognini in front of a pro-Fognini crowd and pulled out a 6-4, 6-2 victory in 77 minutes. Rune had an 18-13 edge in winners.
Sinner accumulated 32 winners against 11 unforced errors while receiving a stern test from Russia’s Alexander Shevchenko. Sinner lost the second-set tiebreak before finishing strong for a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2 triumph.
In other third-round matches, No. 24 seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina defeated France’s Gregoire Barrere 6-7 (0), 6-2, 6-2; Australia’s Alexei Popyrin knocked off Russian Roman Safiullin 7-5, 7-5; and Serbia’s Laslo Djere led 6-3, 2-1 when Cristian Garin of Chile retired due to an oblique injury.
Among the players who won second-round matches on Sunday were third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 19 Alexander Zverev of Germany. No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz lost.
Medvedev had a 6-0 edge in aces while knocking off Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-2.
“Whenever I come to a tournament, I know that I can play well, so I’m happy to finally get the win here in Rome,” said Medvedev after his first career victory at the clay-court event.
Tsitsipas stepped on court just to win two games to complete a match that was interrupted by rain on Saturday. The cameo gave him a 6-3, 6-3 win over Portugal’s Nuno Borges.
Tiafoe’s match also was stopped by rain on Saturday after he dropped a set and led 4-3 in the second against Germany’s Daniel Altmaier. He was able to rebound for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.
Zverev played a tight match with Belgium’s David Goffin before posting a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Fritz was outplayed by Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann, who rolled to a 6-4, 6-1 upset. Hanfmann had 26 winners against just seven unforced errors.
In other second-round matches, No. 18 Lorenzo Musetti coasted to a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow Italian Matteo Arnaldi; Italy’s Marco Cecchinato rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 21 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain; and Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan outlasted 32nd-seeded Czech Jiri Lehecka 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
–Field Level Media