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Djokovic scores emotional win in Monte Carlo

ESPN staff
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Novak Djokovic was broken twice in the first set © Getty Images
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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was told of his grandfather's death just hours before he walked on court against Alexandr Dolgopolov on Thursday, but he still managed to recover from losing the first set to reach the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals.

Djokovic, who in a month's time will aim to win the one grand slam to have eluded him at Roland Garros, looked far from focused early in the match, understandably so after the death of his grandfather with whom he once lived. However, he gathered his composure to grind out a 2-6 6-1 6-4 victory, before bursting into tears on court.

The Monte Carlo event is one of the three ATP Masters 1000 tournaments to have eluded Djokovic so far in his burgeoning career, and it looked like another year would pass when Dolgopolov dominated his rival in the first eight games.

There was nothing particularly wrong with Djokovic's start to the match, misfiring with only one of his opening ten first serves. The problem was Dolgopolov was prepared to be aggressive on the return, and he converted his first two break points to storm out to a 5-2 lead.

Djokovic had his own chances, twice giving himself an opening on the Ukrainian's serve, but he failed with both to drop the set 6-2 in rapid fashion.

The world's leading player has the ability to react mid-contest, though, and he sparked a quite remarkable turnaround in the second, levelling the match inside the hour. Storming to 0-40 on Dolgopolov's opening service game Djokovic hit a quite brilliant forehand winner to break for 2-0 and, despite facing three break chances on his own serve, he penetrated the Dolgopolov delivery once again for parity in the contest.

An untimely rain interruption halted play at 1-1 in the third, after which Dolgopolov saved a break point immediately upon resumption. Djokovic finally made his breakthrough in the ninth game to allow him to serve for the match, which he did successfully when Dolgopolov sent his return long.

Djokovic will now face Robin Haase, who beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-2 6-3, for a place in the last four.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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