I couldn’t do too much.” While Djokovic persevered, you have to credit Nishikori who gave Novak all he could and then some. That was the biggest mistake today.” Djokovic has now made the finals at 23 of his last 26 events, and he’s won his last 14 matches in Rome plus his last 17 against Top 10 players. Tomorrow comes more opposition in the form of a very hot Andy Murray.I think today he proved that he’s on the list of guys Novak has to watch out for in Paris. “I was playing really good tennis in the first set. The Scot, as we thought, blew out lucky loser Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-1 and he hasn’t dropped a set all week.
“I thought it was even better than my match against Rafa and the way he was striking the ball,’ assessed Djokovic.
“He was making it very tough for me to do anything, really, from the baseline but to defend and wait for the opportunities.
Maybe in some games when his balls are maybe a bit shorter in the rally, which started to happen at the beginning of second set, but first set was flawless, I mean, from his side. In the third, I think I could have been a little better and he was giving me a lot of pressure and I wasn’t making many first serves. “In the tiebreak I made too many unforced errors and three in a row from 3-all.
“The first game, instead of cleaning my shoes, I hit myself pretty hard, ankle, and actually have a bruised bone which I have right now which was hurting for a while. “But message to all the kids out there: Be aware, when you’re cleaning your shoes, make sure the frame hits your shoe.” Lesson learned!
Then the pain faded away but then returned towards the end of the match. The Serb’s footing was a little unsettled, but Djokovic found his feet in the second and third sets.
Yet just when it appeared Nishikori was going to go away down a break in the third, the Asian No.1 stormed back, saved a matchpoint and forced a deciding breaker.For the third straight day Novak Djokovic had to fight to stay alive in the Rome Masters.After dropping a bagel set Thursday to Thomaz Bellucci, Djokovic fought off a tough Rafael Nadal Friday and today overcame an early ankle issue to take down Kei Nishikori in a 3-hour thrill ride 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).Djokovic again came out scratchy, and early on needed treatment for what looked like a minor bone bruise after whacking his racquet on his ankle.“It was an awkward situation,” Djokovic said of the injury.