Novak Djokovic took his place in the semifinals of the Italian Open on Friday with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/1) victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime, guaranteeing that he is the number one of the league for the 370th week. world would remain. Top-class Djokovic is chasing a sixth title in Rome, ahead of Roland Garros later this month, and took more than two hours to win a match that featured superb tennis from Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian Auger-Aliassime crashed into serves over 200 kph, hit 11 aces and showed a wide range of daring shots in his first-ever game against 20-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic.
The 21-year-old, who won his first ATP tournament in Rotterdam in February, even went toe-to-toe in rallies with Djokovic and received applause from the Serb early in the match with a particularly agile drop shot.
“He has the deadly serve, to be honest, one thing is practice, another is playing against someone in an official match… It was not at all easy for me to come back,” Djokovic said after the game.
“He also returns well, he moves well, he is a very complete player. He did ask me to raise the level.”
Djokovic showed a touch of class, exemplified by a lob at the end of a thrilling rally that broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in game six of the second set to give the 35-year-old a 4-2 lead.
Auger-Aliassime brought the crowd to their feet by fighting back to take the set to a tiebreak, where his valiant resistance finally came to an end.
Djokovic is again top of the bill on Saturday evening for his clash with Casper Ruud where he can claim his 1,000th victory of his career on his way to the final.
Stefanos Tsitsipas made it to the semi-finals by beating local hero Jannick Sinner 7-6 (7/5) and 6-2 in a clash that was interrupted for more than 10 minutes at match point after a spectator fell ill.
Then Tsitsipas takes on Alexander Zverev, who comfortably defeated Cristian Garin, the only unseeded player left in the tournament, 7-5, 6-2.
It will be the third time in a month that the German will face the Greek in the last four, with the pair sharing credit for clashes in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Exciting comeback from Jabeur
Ons Jabeur is in the semi-finals of the women’s tournament after recovering from a match away from defeat by beating Maria Sakkari 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Tunisian Jabeur made history last weekend by winning in Madrid, becoming the first Arab or African player to claim a WTA 1000 title and roar with joy after a stunning win at the Foro Italico.
The 27-year-old looked certain to leave after he was hammered in the first set by world number four Sakkari and went down 5-2 in the second.
Greece’s Sakkari served for what looked like a routine win, but out of nowhere Jabeur pushed back and broke service in game eight before winning the next seven to take three in set three, a lead she never relinquished.
“In my head at 5-2 I said, you can’t finish those two weeks, those amazing almost three weeks, like this,” Jabeur told reporters.
“To support Madrid’s performance it’s very important to me… It’s one of the reasons I’m here, why I want to continue to show myself on the pitch.”
In the last four, Jabeur will face Daria Kasatkina, who continued after the Swiss Jil Tiechmann was injured while the Russian was leading 6-4 and 3-2.
Previously, Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 26 games after beating Bianca Andreescu 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.
The world number one, bidding for the fifth consecutive tournament win, will face Aryna Sabalenka after the third seed beat Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
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