Novak Djokovic reached the semifinals of the Italian Open with a 7-5, 7-6 (1) win over Felix Auger-Aliassime in a thrilling first clash between the two. The Serb’s two-hour-and-nine-minute triumph also sees him retain world No. 1 threatened by Daniil Medvedev, as well as the top seed at the upcoming French Open.
It was Djokovic’s first career match with Auger-Aliassime, although they had practiced together several times and were familiar with each other’s approaches to the game. Despite the fact that he was facing world no. 1 for the first time, the 21 years old kept calm from the start.
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“I thought I could have finished the job earlier” – Novak Djokovic
The opening set was tight until 2-2 when the eighth seed was the first to set up a break point that was saved by Djokovic, who won 3-2. After nearly 40 minutes, the world no. 1 got his own break to serve at 5-3 for the opener. However, he was denied an opportunity to finish the set as the Canadian broke to serve again and delivered a confident love hold to make it 5-5. A game later, during the changeover, the Rome crowd booed Shirt worn by Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan that was shown on the big screen before the top seed crushed his opponent and won the opener 7-5.
In the first point of the second set, chair umpire Nacho Forcadell assessed one of Auger Aliassime’s shots “not upstairs,” awarded Novak Djokovic the point, despite video replays uploaded by broadcasters and fans on social media showing Auger-Aliassime had arrived on the ball with plenty of time. The 21 year old stayed cool until serving at 2-3 when the top seed lunged and set up two break points that Auger-Aliassime saved to keep the game at Deuce before throwing away two more.
With Djokovic waving his hands in the air to celebrate and taunt the fans, the five-time former winner converted his fourth with a brilliant lob that the 6’4 Canadian couldn’t match. In the next game, Auger-Aliassime responded by setting up two break points of his own while the crowd raised their voices and continued to yell and jeer between points, causing the top seed to yell “Keep your mouth shut” during the nine-minute game, which he eventually held on to, bringing the match to 5-2.
“I thought I could have finished the job [against Auger-Aliassime] beforehand,” Said Novak Djokovic on the pitch afterwards. “I was a set and 5-2 up and served for the match but I thank him for putting up a fight. Amazing atmosphere tonight too.” When he next faced Casper Ruud, Djokovic said: “Great opponent. A clay specialist but he has improved a lot on other surfaces and played in the final in Miami this year. A very hard worker, nice guy. We train a lot and get along well off the field. There is no doubt that we want to win against each other on the pitch tomorrow.”
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https://firstsportz.com/tennis-news-amazing-atmosphere-tonight-novak-djokovic-scores-999th-career-win-against-felix-auger-aliassime-advances-to-semi-finals/ “Great atmosphere tonight,” Novak Djokovic scores 999. Career win over Felix Auger-Aliassime, advances to semifinals » FirstSportz