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Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena claimed the second Top 20 victory of his career with a dramatic 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(4) win over Gael Monfils in a late-night marathon on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the Belgrade Open. 

“It was a very tough match and a very physical match,” Carballes Baena said in an on-court interview. “Gael is a top player and he is so good. He is not playing his best tennis, but for me it is a great win.”  

Carballes Baena, who won the ATP Challenger Series event at this same venue last month (d. Dzumhur), came out on fire against World No. 15 Monfils. He led 4-0 in the opening set and by a break in the second but the Frenchman, who was looking for his second match win of the season (1-3), never stopped fighting. 

The Spaniard was in trouble – and on the brink of defeat – in a rollercoaster third set, as he trailed by a break and then 1/4 in the deciding tie-break. Carballes Baena stayed patient and took his chances, reeling off six points in a row to turn around the tie-break and claim victory after a two-hour and 35-minute battle.

Carballes Baena booked a quarter-final clash against eighth seed Federico Delbonis as he seeks his second tour-level title. The Spaniard will be looking to improve his ATP Head2Head record against Delbonis, who has won all four of their encounters, including most recently in Marbella earlier in the season. 

“Tomorrow is going to be a very tough match. I played four or five times against Delbonis, and I lost all of the times. I think it will be very tough, but right now I want to enjoy this victory and tomorrow I will prepare [for] the match.”

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Fifth seed Dusan Lajovic claimed the only straight-sets win of the day to move past Jeremy Chardy and book a spot into the quarter-finals. The Serbian won 72 per cent of points (28/39) behind his first serve, and kept the pressure on the Frenchman by creating 18 break opportunities. Lajovic converted on four occasions en route to a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Lajovic will next face qualifier Andrej Martin, who similarly faced 18 break points in his battle with third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Martin saved 10 of those points, and in turn broke serve nine times to claim a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(4) win over the Munich champion after two hours and 29 minutes. 


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