Novak Djokovic withstood an early challenge to advance to the last eight of the Srpska Open on Wednesday in Banja Luka.

The world no.1 rallied from a set down to defeat Luca Van Assche 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the ATP 250 event.

Novak converted six of his 11 break points and was broken twice during the two hour, 39-minute clash.

Novak failed to capitalise on three set points in the opening set before the French teen won the tie-break. The 22-time Grand Slam champion kept getting better as the match progressed and he broke twice in the second set to force a decider.

Van Assche broke first, but Nole grabbed four games in a row for a 4-1 lead in the third set. He kept the advantage and broke once more to seal the victory.

“It wasn’t easy,” Djokovic said. “This would probably rank as the slowest court, slowest conditions I’ve ever played in, to be honest. I couldn’t penetrate through the court. I couldn’t put any ball past him. He was on every single ball for a set-and-a-half until I started to get some rhythm going. I’m happy with the way I finished the match. Of course I can always play better, but a win is a win.”

The top-seeded Serbian star will next play compatriot Dusan Lajovic (ATP #70, H2H 2-0). The quarter-final match is scheduled on Friday.

Photo: Srpska Open

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