Novak Djokovic is trying to regain his normal rhythm in Madrid although the conditions are not the easiest. He recently parted ways with all the coaching staff in what was an unexpected decision from the Serb's side. Even so, he found outs some strength to overcome the challenges ahead of him. He escaped from a huge loss yesterday edging Nicolas Almagro at the end of a genuine three sets grueling battle. Today, the Serb had to deal with Feliciano Lopez, the crowd's favorite, in order to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. It may seem like an easy win but it also was an encounter that was hanging by a thread.

Djokovic is far from getting a convincing win

With Kei Nishikori already awaiting in the quarterfinals, Novak Djokovic entered the match against the Spaniard having a compelling head to head history. The Serb was leading by 8-1 overall but with only one match being held on clay back in 2011 in Belgrade, Serbia. Ranked 38th in the world, Lopez kept his game on an elevated level and only the superior skills of Djokovic prevented him from pushing the set into a tie-break. The opening act went on Djokovic's pocket by 6-4 having Lopez failing when he was serving to stay in the set at 5-4 for the Serb. The second act went pretty much the same direction, once again having the Spaniard unable to finish the job.

At 6-5 for Novak, Lopez did some mistakes on his own serve thus handing the set to his opponent. For Djokovic, the last eight stages will bring Nishikori in a position to ask the question. The Japanese Tennis star and no. 8 in the general ranking, Nishikori is a totally different opponent, a constant top 10 presence over the past years, he's trying to overcome some bad form due to some lingering injuries.

Besides Nishikori, there is also Nadal looming for the semis

The bottom half of the draw saw a cornucopia of high-profile tennis players making their moves in order to reach some higher summits. Djokovic might be the highest seed of the second part of the draw, but Rafael Nadal is the one leading the charts when it comes to this year's result on the clay court.

The 30-year-old Spaniard made a perfect first part winning in Barcelona and Monte Carlo. On the other side, Djokovic has been a shadow of his former self lately. If he gets past Nishikori (also a tremendous clay court player and one of the best defenders of the ATP Tour) Djokovic could cross sword with Nadal for the first time since 2016 Rome Masters 1000 event.

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