Tennis-Resilient Djokovic fends off Nadal, Murray wins
ROME (Reuters) - World number one Novak Djokovic fended off a resurgent Rafael Nadal 7-5 7-6 (4) in a pulsating battle on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open.
Nadal led 4-2 in the first set and had five set points on serve at 5-4 in the second but Djokovic held firm for a bruising clay-court victory which took two hours 24 minutes.
It was his seventh straight win over the Spaniard and 11th in 12 meetings. However, it took all of the Serb's incredible defensive skills to withstand a much-improved performance from the nine-times French Open champion.
Coping better with a blustery wind that swirled around the Foro Italico, Nadal broke to lead 3-2 but Djokovic recovered to level at 4-4 and then won the first set on his fourth set point.
In the second set Nadal broke in the opening game and despite calling the physio because of pain in his left foot, he held his advantage to 5-4.
Serving for the set he held five set points but Djokovic saved the lot and broke back, eventually sealing the match on a tie break.
Djokovic next meets Kei Nishikori of Japan or Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Earlier, Andy Murray held off a strong fight back from David Goffin to beat the Belgian 6-1 7-5.
In a repeat of their clash in last year's Davis Cup final, world number three Murray raced through the first set for the loss of just 10 points. Continued...