ATP

Imperious Djokovic powers into quarter-finals in Rome

By Sports Desk May 13, 2021

Novak Djokovic cruised into the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia with a straight-sets demolition of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Thursday.

The world number one took just an hour and 10 minutes to wrap up an emphatic 6-2 6-1 victory at the Foro Italico.

Davidovich Fokina broke the top seed's serve in the first game of the match, but that proved to be a false dawn for the Spanish qualifier.

Djokovic put the 21-year-old under huge pressure with another returning masterclass, breaking back immediately and on two more occasions to seal the first set.

The 18-time grand slam champion was relentless in the second set, forcing Davidovich Fokina's unforced error count up to 30 as he breezed into the last eight.

Djokovic, who has reached at least the quarter-final stage in each of his 15 appearances at the prestigious tournament in Rome, was waiting to learn whether he would face Stefanos Tsitsipas or Matteo Berrettini for a place in the semi-finals.

The Serbian said: "I thought I played well. He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court.

"I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

"He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward.

"I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against [Taylor] Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better."

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    Osaka, who last year was ranked by Forbes as the highest-paid female athlete in world sport, has been a powerful and uncompromising voice on race and gender inequality issues, with Konta impressed by the impact such a young player is having.

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    "She has a big passion for social movements and current social matters and she feels empowered by using her voice in ways she feels is beneficial to things that she believes in and that's her prerogative to do so.

    "And I think that as long as people stay authentic to themselves and what they believe in, I think they make the biggest positive impact they can, and that is the rule of thumb that she's following.

    "Obviously a lot of people will find a lot of solace in someone as successful as her talking about things that maybe they experience but don't have the sort of social platform or, I guess, strength of voice to be able to put it in the public domain. Kudos to her for being true to herself."

    Konta's wins over Osaka came at the second-round stage of the 2015 US Open, the same round at the 2017 Australia Open, and later in 2017 in Stuttgart.

    Their next meeting could come at the Tokyo Olympics, with both planning to take part, Osaka hoping to strike what would be a famous gold for Japan.

    The best tennis of Konta's 2021 season so far saw her land a grass-court title at the Nottingham Open this month, becoming the first British woman to win a WTA singles tournament on home soil since Sue Barker did so at the Daihatsu Challenge event in Brighton in 1981.

    It gave Konta a first trophy since winning the Miami Open in 2017 and a fourth career title, with the former world number four hitting her stride in timely fashion ahead of a Wimbledon tilt.

    For any British player at Wimbledon, attention can be intense, but that is particularly the case for the few who have enjoyed success on a scale Konta has experienced, reaching the semi-finals in 2017 and getting through to the quarters two years ago, the last time the tournament was held.

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    "Playing in 2017 and getting to the semis there, I didn't feel too overwhelmed by attention," Konta, 30, said in an interview with Stats Perform.

    "I think attention can only be too overwhelming if you put yourself in the position where you are looking for it and acknowledging it.

    "For me, I would wake up, have breakfast, get in my own car and drive myself to the site, warm up and play my match and do the media and all that, then I'd get in my car and come home, have dinner, watch a series or watch a film, but I wasn't spending my time on social media, I wasn't watching the news, I wasn't really doing too much.

    "The only time I noticed that things were happening was when I needed to pop to the supermarket to get some food, and all the newspapers that were there had my face on them, so that was an interesting one."


    :: Johanna Konta is a Jaguar ambassador. Jaguar is the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon. To discover Jaguar’s unmatched experiences visit jaguar.co.uk/Wimbledon

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