Rome, May 18: World number one Novak Djokovic "never lost faith" after saving two match points in his epic quarter-final victory over Juan Martin del Potro at the Internazionali d'Italia.
Djokovic was pushed to the limit by Del Potro but the 15-time grand slam champion survived an almighty scare to prevail 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in Rome on Friday (May 17).
After erasing a 5-2 deficit, Del Potro had a pair of chances to book a semi-final berth at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, however, Djokovic fended off both in the second-set tie-break.
"I never lost faith I could come back to the match. One break of serve, mini break in the tie-break when he was 6-4, more or less open forehand that he was making the entire match, that's all it took for me to come back," Djokovic said.
"[He] missed a couple crucial points in the tie-break. Also break point third set, quite easy forehand. That's what happens. That's sport. I'm just really pleased to overcome."
Top seed and four-time Rome champion Djokovic will face Argentina's Diego Schwartzman for a spot in back-to-back Masters finals, having reigned supreme at the Madrid Open.
"I lost probably the positioning of the court over him. Towards the end of the first, he just started hitting the ball really well from both corners, also backhand side, backhand down the line. He was playing really well, gave me a lot of trouble," Djokovic said.