Novak Djokovic enters semi-final in Rome and extends his stay as world number one | Tennis News

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ROME: Novak Djokovic took his place in the semi-finals of the Italian Open on Friday with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/1) victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime which guaranteed him he would remain number one worldwide for a 370th week.
Top-seeded Djokovic is chasing a sixth title in Rome before Roland Garros later this month, and needed more than two hours to win a match that featured some magnificent tennis from the big hitter Auger-Aliassime .
Canada’s Auger-Aliassime crashed in serves at over 200mph, hitting 11 aces, and showed a wide range of daring shots in his first-ever match against 20-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic.
The 21-year-old, who won his first ATP tournament in Rotterdam in February, even clashed in rallies with Djokovic, drawing applause from the Serb early in the game with a particularly deft drop shot.
“He’s got the deadly serve, honestly one thing is training, another thing is playing against someone in an official match… It wasn’t easy at all for me to come back,” said Djokovic after the game.
“He also comes back well, he moves well, he is a very complete player. He asked me to raise the level.”
Djokovic showed touches 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 put the 35-year-old ahead 4-2.
Auger-Aliassime got the crowd going as he fired back to lead the set to a tie-break, where his brave resistance was finally ended.
Djokovic is headlined again on Saturday night for his clash with Casper Ruud where he can claim his 1,000th career victory en route to the final.
Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the semi-finals beating hometown hero Jannick Sinner 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 in a clash that was stopped for more than 10 minutes at match point after a spectator fell sick.
Next, Tsitsipas will face Alexander Zverev, who comfortably beat Cristian Garin, the only unranked player remaining in the tournament, 7-5, 6-2.
It will be the third time in the space of a month that the German will meet the Greek in the last four, with the duo sharing the honors of the clashes in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Ons Jabeur are in the semi-finals of the women’s draw after bouncing back from being one game away from defeat to beat Maria Sakkari 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Tunisian Jabeur made history last weekend by winning in Madrid to become the first Arab or African player to win a WTA 1000 title and roar with joy after a magnificent victory at Foro Italico.
The 27-year-old looked certain to leave after being hammered by world number four Sakkari in the first set and losing 5-2 in the second.
Greece’s Sakkari was serving for what seemed like a routine victory, but out of nowhere Jabeur pushed back, breaking serve in the eighth game before winning the next seven to go three ahead in the third set, a lead she never gave up.
“In my head at 5-2, I said to myself: you can’t end these two weeks, these incredible almost three weeks, like this,” Jabeur told reporters.
“To support Madrid’s performance is very important to me… It’s one of the reasons why I’m here, why I want to keep showing myself on the pitch.”
In the last four, Jabeur will face Daria Kasatkina, who qualified after Swiss Jil Tiechmann retired to injury while the Russian led 6-4, 3-2.
Earlier, Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 26 matches after a straight-sets victory over Bianca Andreescu, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.
The world number one, seeking a fifth consecutive tournament triumph, will face Aryna Sabalenka after the third seed won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 against Amanda Anisimova.



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