Monte-Carlo Masters: Novak Djokovic battles past Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach last-16
Djokovic will next lock horns with the winner of another last-32 clash between Argentine Diego Schwartzman and American Taylor Fritz.
World number one Novak Djokovic produced a spirited performance as he rebounded strongly from a set down to brush aside Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in a three-set thriller to storm into the pre-quarterfinals at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
After comfortably clinching the opening set, the Serbian tennis maestro went down in the second before he bounced back in style to seal a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Kohlschreiber in a last-32 clash of the men's singles event that lasted two hours and 36 minutes.
Djokovic saved 12 out of 16 break points during the clash to not only clinch his 850th tour-level win but also improve his ATP Head-to-Head rivalry against Kohlschreiber by 9-2.
Reflecting on the match, Djokovic admitted that he should have stepped in and played a bit more aggressively in the second set against Kohlschreiber, who overcame the Serbian 6-4, 6-4 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open last month.
"I had ups and downs and in a way felt a bit rusty on the court. I had a tough opponent, of course. Philipp beat me in Indian Wells. It was a match that happened less than a month ago, so of course it was in the back of my mind a bit," the Association of Tennis Professionals quoted Djokovic as saying.
Heaping praise on Kohlschreiber for mixing up the pace and playing well, Djokovic said that he is looking forward to play slightly better in the next round.
"I thought I should have maybe stepped in and played a bit more aggressive in the second set, but credit to him for mixing up the pace and playing well. I'll take this win. Hopefully, I can play slightly better in the next round, because if I want to go deep in the tournament, I definitely have to up my game," he added.
Djokovic, who is bidding to clinch his third title at the Monte-Carlo and match Rafael Nadal's record haul of 33 Masters 1000 titles, will next lock horns with the winner of another last-32 clash between Argentine Diego Schwartzman and American Taylor Fritz.