Novak Djokovic celebrated putting his name into "another history record book" after his victory over Mats Moraing at the Belgrade Open. Djokovic's 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) triumph on Tuesday set up a quarter-final tie against Federico Coria, and put the world number one level with Argentine great Guillermo Vilas for the fifth-most match wins in the Open Era (951). It was his 17th win of the season, as the 34-year-old looks to prepare for the French Open with a third title success in his home tournament.
"With this win I managed to put my name in another history record book," Djokovic said following his victory.
"Obviously being in the same conversation with Vilas and the legends and greats of our game, it makes me really fulfilled and very joyful."
Djokovic has some way to go to make it into the top four on the all-time list, however. He is 71 wins adrift of Rafael Nadal (1,022), who sits fourth. Ivan Lendl (1,068) is third, behind Roger Federer (1,243), who still has Jimmy Connors' record of 1,274 Open Era wins in his sights.
Despite a tight start, Djokovic got away from Moraing by winning four straight games. Moraing hit back in set two to force a tie-break, but his illustrious opponent had too much quality.
"I was twice a break up in the second set so I maybe could have finished out the job earlier, but credit to him for fighting, for playing really well, for playing very courageous, very bold tennis," Djokovic said.
After turning 34 on Saturday, Djokovic received a bye to the second round of the Belgrade Open. He lost in the semi-finals of the Serbian Open last month, and came into this event on the back of a defeat to Nadal in the Rome Masters final. Next up is Coria, who defeated Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-2, though Djokovic's compatriot Pedja Krstin dropped out, crushed 6-0, 6-0 by Slovakian Alex Molcan.
At the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, fifth seed Richard Gasquet defeated Daniel Altmeier 6-3, 6-3, while Sebastian Korda defeated Andreas Seppi to tee up a tie with top seed Lorenzo Sonego. Lorenzo Musetti claimed his 13th tour-level win of 2021 by overcoming Gianluca Mager, and the Italian's reward is a meeting with Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat Sam Querrey.