Updated: April 30, 2010, 12:23 PM ET
Verdasco grinds out win over Djokovic
ROME -- Fernando Verdasco extended his impressive form on clay with a grueling 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic in a Rome Masters quarterfinal Friday.
The first set alone lasted nearly an hour and a half and the sixth-seeded Verdasco closed out the match with an ace down the middle after 3 hours and 18 minutes of long baseline rallies under a glaring sun at the Foro Italico.
"When you face someone who always makes you play one more shot on every point it's not easy to play a quick match," Djokovic said. "So I knew it was going to be a long match today.
"The match could have gone either way. It was decided by one or two points."
Verdasco has reached the final of his last two events -- losing to Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters and winning last week's Barcelona Open. Verdasco earned a semifinal matchup against David Ferrer, who cruised past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1.
Later, Nadal was to continue his bid for a fifth title in Rome against 2008 runner-up Stanislas Wawrinka; while Ernests Gulbis faced Feliciano Lopez in the night match.
Roger Federer and his Swiss Davis Cup teammate Yves Allegro lost 6-4, 6-4 in doubles to Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey.
Federer lost his opener in singles to Gulbis on Tuesday.
Verdasco also beat Djokovic in the Monte Carlo semifinals, earning a straightforward 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The turning point this time didn't come until Verdasco won a marathon game on his sixth break point to take a 2-1 lead in the third set, running down a drop shot and forcing Djokovic to hit into the net.
The Serb committed 46 unforced errors to Verdasco's 40.
"My backhand wasn't at the level I wanted it to be at today, and I struggled a little with my serve, but I'm happy more or less with the way I played," Djokovic said. "If there was one different thing I could've done I would have liked to play better on the important points."