(AFP): Novak Djokovic moved into his first quarter-final of 2018 on Thursday when he defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 7-5 at the Italian Open.
The four-time Rome champion is making his way back this year after a six-month injury absence before the Australian Open, which was followed by elbow surgery.
And the 30-year-old showed some of his old form as he got past Ramos-Vinolas to set up a rematch with Japan’s Kei Nishikori for a semi-final berth.
Read post-match interview:
THE MODERATOR: Everyone, we’ll do a short one because he has a day session tomorrow. Questions?
Q. Just how good was that match? It seems maybe your best match in months.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. I mean, I’m happy. I haven’t had too many matches of this quality of my tennis in the last 12 months. I think this was probably one of the three matches that I played this way in the last 12 months.
So, it felt good. And it came at the right time in the place where I love to play, where I get a lot of support. And so, I’m just trying to thrive on this energy that I get from people here.
And I’ve historically always played well in Rome, and I feel like each match is getting better. So, hopefully, it’s going to continue in this direction.
Q. Your thoughts about facing Kei in the quarterfinal instead of the first round like in Madrid?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. That’s something that we’re used to a little bit more, you know, to face each other in quarterfinals or later.
But, yeah, it was strange playing Kei in the first round in Madrid. But, it was a very close match.
And I expect the same tomorrow. You know, I expect a big fight from both of us.
You know, we had some epic matches also here a couple years ago, semifinals. It ended up very late. And I think 7-5, 7-6 in the third set that I won that match.
But, yeah, I mean with Kei, you know, you know that you’re going into a match where, you know, balls will come very quick from each part of the court. So, I have to be able to start off with the right intensity and try to impose my game, my tactics.
But it’s not going to be easy, because he also likes playing here. And he won against Dimitrov and today also. I saw the result was quite easy. So, he’s also in a good form. He’s raising his level of tennis.
So, I think this match tomorrow comes at the right time for both of us to see, you know, where we are with our game.
Q. You’re serving really well and hitting the forehand as before. Does that really mean that the elbow and pain, everything else, is going away quickly?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: So far so good.
In terms of pain, I don’t have it. So that’s a good thing.
Off the court, I do have it still in certain situations.
But on the court, which is most important, I don’t. And I hope it stays that way.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports