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Gladiator Djokovic fights off rain break and Tsitsipas to reach Rome semis

The world No 1 found himself down a break in the second and third sets, but found a way to come back and win over his younger rival and advance to the last four

Novak Djokovic at Rome in 2021 Novak Djokovic at Rome in 2021

ATP Masters 1000 Rome, Quarter-final
Djokovic beats Tsitsipas: 4-6, 7-5, 7-5

  • The headline: World No 1 Novak Djokovic needed over three hours to overcome Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.
  • Other key info: Tsitsipas led by a break in the second and third sets.
  • Why you should read this story: Djokovic moves a step closer to a showdown against rival Rafael Nadal.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic pulled off another incredible comeback at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Saturday, coming from a set down, and a break in the second and third set to defeat Monte-Carlo Masters champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in three hours and 16 minutes and advance to the semi-finals in Rome for the eighth year in a row.

The match began on Friday but was suspended after rain stopped play for the second time in the day with the Greek leading Djokovic 6-4, 2-1 with a break of serve.

Djokovic finds a way back to win

Tsitsipas appeared to be more solid as the match resumed on Saturday, holding his serve and going ahead to a 4-2 lead. But Djokovic broke back, and then scored another break at 6-5 to claim the second set.

In the decider, Tsitsipas once again took the lead, going up a break on two occasions and also serving for the match at 5-4. But the Serb provided to be unrelenting as he fought back each time and then scored another decisive break in the 12th game of the final set to complete the 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 win.

The win improves Djokovic’s record against Tsitsipas to 5-2, and the Serb has now won their last four matches in a row. The match was highly anticipated as it was billed between the clash between the ATP’s world No 1 and the Race to Turin No 1 and did not disappoint the fans.

Djokovic to face off against Sonego later today

Djokovic advances to the semi-finals where he will meet Lorenzo Sonego, later on Saturday. Sonego held his nerve to score a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over the Russian Andrey Rublev in another quarter-final which only began on Saturday.

The Spaniard, who has had a mediocre clay-court campaign in 2021 by his standards, takes on big-serving American Reilly Opelka in the first semi-final on Saturday. Djokovic and Nadal have not played since the Roland-Garros 2020 final which the Spaniard won in straight sets.

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