Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro will play Novak Djokovic for the third time this year tomorrow, as the pair face off in quarter finals of the Rome edition of ATP’s Masters 1000 series.

Del Potro, ranked 33rd in ATP’s official world rankings, defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori, ranked 9th, at Rome’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia court earlier today – his first win on clay against a top 10 opponent since 2012.

Delpo had the support of the majority of the 3,500-strong crowd too as he defeated seventh-seed Nishikori 7-6 (4), 6-3, too, and made his appreciation clear post-match:

““It was amazing. It was like a soccer match for me. I enjoyed the crowd a lot. My feelings are the best when I get onto the court and the crowd is cheering for me. That’s incredible for all the players,” he said.

“I have lots of support around the world and that’s special to me after all my wrist problems. I have been making a big effort to come back to tennis and they like to see me play again.”

The man from Tandil got off to the best possible start before the Japanese fought his way back, forcing the first set to a tie-break. The second set saw Del Potro fail to convert a match point, having broken for a 3-1 lead. He eventually closed out the match with an ace, taking victory after one hour and 54 minutes.

“My game is improving on this surface, which is important for my confidence. I think I’m not very far away from my highest level, so I’m happy for that,” said del Potro. “I’m looking forward to doing it tomorrow against Novak.”

Tomorrow’s quarter-final clash will be the third time del Potro has faced the Serb in 2017, having been defeated twice in Mexico and at Indian Wells. His memorable victory at last year’s Olympics in Rio, however, means hopes of advancing to the semi-finals are definitely within reason.

The match will be broadcast on ESPN tomorrow, 16:00.