Roger Federer saved two match points as he advanced to the quarterfinals of the Italian Open in remarkable fashion on Thursday, fighting back for a gritty three-set victory over Borna Coric in Rome.
The battling 2-6 6-4 7-6(7) triumph late in the afternoon was world No.3 Federer’s second of the day after he earlier dispatched Joao Sousa 6-4 6-3.
Holder Rafael Nadal and world No.1 Novak Djokovic also romped into the last eight with straight-sets wins on a day featuring double bills for the top seeds after rain wiped out Wednesday’s play, with the Spaniard dropping only two games.
The 37-year-old Federer, who had not played in Rome since 2016, struggled in the opening set against Coric, 15 years his junior, as the Croatian pummelled his rival with stinging baseline shots.
Federer bounced back in the second as he carved out a 5-2 lead and clinched the set after 13th seed Coric, who briefly stayed in it with a break of serve, sent a forehand beyond the baseline.
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With both players producing an array of spectacular shots, games went with serve all the way to the tiebreak, when Swiss star Federer recovered to win from 6-4 down.
“It was very tight and I got very lucky again,” a visibly relieved Federer said of the match.
“Borna’s a very steady player so I couldn’t hit any winners but I played in a way I wasn’t going to lose it.”
Meanwhile, eight-time champion Nadal, who earlier in the day cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-1 then quickly dispatched Nikoloz Basilashvili in his second match of the day, 6-1 6-0.
“Playing two matches is a very dangerous day. I was able to manage it well,” Nadal said.
“I played well, especially I think better in the afternoon than the morning. Yeah, happy about that level in the afternoon.”
Djokovic spent a mere two hours and 10 minutes on the court in total.
The top seed brushed aside Denis Shapovalov 6-1 6-3 followed by a 6-3 6-0 destruction of Philipp Kohlschreiber in the late match on Centre Court.
“I played both matches just above an hour. I didn’t spend too much time. I felt the ball really well,” Djokovic said.
Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco spent nearly five hours on court over six sets to get by Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov and reach the last eight.
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