Tennis: Djokovic to meet Verdasco in Rome quarters
AP Sports Writer
ROME — Novak Djokovic will play Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters after both players won in straight sets today.
The second-ranked Djokovic dropped his serve once in each set and defeated Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-4, while Verdasco edged Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (2) to improve his record to 13-2 on clay this year.
Djokovic will look to avenge his defeat to Verdasco in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters two weeks ago.
"I've played a lot of matches against him on different surfaces and I've won most of them," Djokovic said of his 5-3 record against Verdasco.
Djokovic said the Monte Carlo match "wasn't a real picture of my game. I didn't feel good on the court and made a lot of unforced errors."
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced by beating Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4, while Ernests Gulbis followed up his upset win over Roger Federer with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4) victory over Italian wild-card Filippo Volandri and a partisan crowd.
The 21-year-old Gulbis will meet Feliciano Lopez, who advanced when 11th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic aggravated a muscle in his side during the pre-match warmup.
Djokovic got in just 57 percent of his first serve attempts, but committed half as many unforced errors against the 28th-ranked Bellucci.
"I was down a break every set and it wasn't easy to get back on serve," Djokovic said. "He served well — very accurately — and got a lot of free points."
Djokovic is aiming to reach his third consecutive final in Rome, winning in 2008 and losing to Rafael Nadal last year.
Later, Nadal was up against No. 39 Victor Hanescu in the night match at the Foro Italico.