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Novak Djokovic overcomes a stern challenge against Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday in Monte-Carlo.

Djokovic Survives Spanish Test In Monte-Carlo

Two-time former champion to face Goffin in the quarter-finals

Novak Djokovic showcased the temperament of a champion on Thursday night just as victory in his third-round clash against Pablo Carreno Busta appeared to be eluding him at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

The second seed and two-time former champion saved two break points in a tense ninth game of the deciding set en route to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over No. 15 seed Carreno Busta, which lasted two hours and 26 minutes.

"It's great to overcome the big challenge presented to me today with this kind of win, even though I haven't played the way I wanted. He’s very difficult to play against. He's always making you play an extra ball,” said Djokovic. “It’s a win I’ll take as a great confidence boost. I'm confident that with dedication and commitment and a positive mindset, I can get to the level where I want to be.”

Djokovic will now prepare for a clash against 10th seed David Goffin of Belgium. The Serbian has lost just one set in five matches against Goffin and leads 5-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The second seed said he's eager to continue his run in Monte-Carlo.

"I think I've earned the right to be optimistic everywhere I play, everywhere I go, because of the career and results that I've had. I think that will never change. I will always want to win in every match that I play in, every tournament that I play in,” said Djokovic. “Of course, playing in Monte-Carlo has a special meaning to me because I live here and I train in this club all year round. I have many friends and family that come and support me. It feels very special. That's why I always try to give extra effort to really make a good result in this tournament.”

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Although Djokovic saved three break points in a 12-point first game, the Serbian star won six straight games from 2-2 in the first set to a 2-0 lead in the second set. He then let Carreno Busta back into the pair’s second meeting (2014 Monte-Carlo) by losing three successive service games. Although Djokovic pressed the Spaniard into error to recover to 4-5, Carreno Busta took the 55-minute set to ensure a decider.

Djokovic led 4-2 in the third set, but quickly found himself serving at 4-4, 15/40, with Carreno Busta sensing another upset, hours after World No. 1 Andy Murray and 2014 titlist Stan Wawrinka left the Monte-Carlo Country Club for another year.

On Carreno Busta’s first break point chance, he got Djokovic off balance with a lob, but snatched at a backhand and hit the ball into the net. At 30/40, Djokovic opted for power and in advancing to the net gained another backhand error from his opponent. Minutes later, Djokovic struck a drive volley forehand winner for his 30th match win at the historic clay-court tournament.

Monaco resident Djokovic, who won the 2013 (d. Nadal) and 2015 (d. Berdych) titles, is looking to add to his 30 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns this week.

Earlier in the day, Goffin recorded his sixth victory in nine meetings against Dominic Thiem, the sixth seed, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 15 minutes. Goffin fought back from a 2-5 deficit in the first set, having saved one set point with Thiem serving at 5-4, 40/30. Goffin, a runner-up in Sofia and Rotterdam this season, improves to a 22-7 match record in 2017.

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