Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas admitted Grigor Dimitrov gave him a "hard time" as he was glad that he was able to survive his Rome opener.
Tsitsipas, ranked at No. 5 in the world, edged out former world No. 3 Dimitrov 6-3 5-7 7-6 (4) in the Rome second round.
Tsitsipas saved a match point in the 10th game of the third set and one more in the 12th game before he won a third set tie-break to escape with a victory.
"Incredible fight. I'm extremely happy I was able to overcome this obstacle," Tsitsipas said post-match. "Grigor played really well, gave me a hard time on the court.
"Just so many emotions. The fact that I was able to process all of that and come back stronger in the third-set tie-break, it was such a great way to redeem myself after not being able to hold in that last game of the second set."
Tsitsipas acknowledged the great Rome crowd
Tsitsipas and Dimitrov delivered a show and the crowd responded by putting up a great atmosphere.
"It's like playing in the Colosseum," Tsitsipas said of the atmosphere on Grand Stand Arena. "There's so much energy coming from the crowd. I think the people that came today to watch the match were so into it… It made for a great atmosphere and a great gladiator kind of environment on the court."
After the Tsitsipas and Dimitrov clash, the Rome crowd had a chance to see an all-Italian meeting between Jannik Sinner and Fabio Fognini.
Sinner, ranked at No. 13 in the world, escaped with a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win over Fognini.
After the match, Sinner called Fognini a great friend and said he was grateful for the help Fognini provided at the start of his career.
"He's a great friend," Sinner said of his opponent. "He gave me a lot of confidence when I played with him in Davis Cup. He's a very special player, like today, he can raise his level incredibly fast."