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Novak Djokovic survives a shaky start to beat Bellucci and will face Nishikori next

Novak Djokovic defeated Thomaz Bellucci 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, extending his match win streak to 19.

The defending champion will face Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals on Friday not before 16hs local time.

Bellucci capitalised on his first break point opportunity to take a 6-5 lead in the first set. The second set was more to Djokovic’s liking, as he got an early break to go up 3-1 after Bellucci sent an overhead smash into the net.

In the sixth game of the eventual decider, Bellucci dug himself out of a 0-40 hole, but Djokovic went on to break for a 4-2 lead. The resilient Brazilian broke back, only for the Serb to eventually sink his teeth in again, break and serve out the match after exactly two hours.

Djokovic survived 27 winners from his opponent, while winning 13 of 14 points at net. Bellucci was 0/8 for points at net and also notched 35 unforced errors.

“Niskikori’s not anymore somebody that we are looking for for the future of tennis,” said Djokovic. “He’s not somebody who is a promising player, he’s already established top 10 player, a Grand Slam finalist and very consistent. I think he’s playing great ever since he started working with Michael Chang. You can notice the improvement in his game.

“He’s very aggressive, one of the best double backhand we have on the tour so I obviously need to start better than I did tonight and be consistent throughout the entire match and bring out my A game because it’s the only way I can win that match.

“My match was high quality, Thomaz played great from both corners, tactically he did the right things, a lot of variety in his serve, mixing it up, not giving me position, hitting the first ball after his serve being aggressive.

“But also he was patient. The match could have gone either way in the third set but I was hanging on in there waiting for the opportunity and capitalised.”

Photos Getty Images

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