Novak Djokovic is through to the Italian Open semi-finals after a thrilling 7-5 7-6(1) win over Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Djokovic was relatively untroubled as he pursues a sixth Rome title, producing one of his best performances in 2022 to record a stylish 999th career win.
The straight-sets masterclass from the 20-time Grand Slam winner, in what was arguably the best match of the clay season so far, means he will play Norway's Casper Ruud in Saturday's semi-final.
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"I thought I could have finished the job [against Auger-Aliassime] earlier," Djokovic said on-court afterwards. "I was a set and 5-2 up and was serving for the match, but credit to him for fighting back. Amazing atmosphere as well tonight."
On facing Ruud next, Djokovic said: "Great quality opponent. A clay-court specialist, but he has improved a lot on other surfaces and played in the final at Miami this year.
"A very hard worker, nice guy. We practice a lot and get on well off the court. Tomorrow on the court we want to win against each other no doubt."
After a tight opening to the first set, Djokovic thought he got a breakthrough in the eighth game, breaking the Auger-Aliassime serve when the Canadian fired a forehand long after a lengthy rally. But Auger-Aliassime fought back immediately to get the tie on serve after Djokovic miscontrolled a backhand.
Both players engaged in a high-quality baseline battle, but Djokovic snatched the set on Auger Aliassime's serve thanks to a violent cross-court winner. Djokovic let out a passionate roar having won a set where he made only seven unforced errors.
Auger-Aliassime retained his composure in a tense opening to the second set where neither player gave up a break point. That was until the sixth game when Auger-Aliassime slipped on the clay to hand Djokovic two.
Although the world No. 10 rescued both with an ace and a forehand winner, a string of unforced errors from the 21-year-old presented Djokovic with a further two. Djokovic made no mistake on the fourth attempt, finishing off a sensational rally by lobbing his opponent.
Djokovic saved two break points to move within a game of the semi-finals. Auger-Aliassime just about held his next service game, saving a match point, before breaking back to 5-5 after a rare unforced error from Djokovic.
A few tense games ticked along with serve before a conclusion was reached in the tie-break. Djokovic seized the early initiative with a perfect drop shot to go 2-0 up.
Djokovic did not relent after that, bamboozling Auger-Aliassime with a flurry of fine winners to seal his place in the last four.


Ruud advanced to his first European clay-court semi-final with a 7-6(7) 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov.
The 23-year-old, who reached the Rome semi-finals in 2020, had to work hard in a tight match against the Canadian who knocked out Rafael Nadal in the previous round.
"I think one of the most important things on clay is to put a lot of first serves in. Today was working well," Ruud said.
"I was serving well all match. At the beginning you are sometimes a bit nervous and excited to start, but after that I was able to calm down and find my tempo."

Highlights: Ruud reaches Rome semis after hard-fought win over Shapovalov

Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame home favourite Jannik Sinner 7-6(5) 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes to reach the Rome semi-finals for the second time in his career.
“I am happy things turned out well. It was a great day at the office,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview.
"I was able to really step it up in the second set and I think the most important part was that first set tie-break. I really went for it when I had to.
"I didn’t overthink or hesitate and that paid off in the end."

Highlights: Tsitsipas produces hard-fought win over Sinner to set up Zverev semi-final

Tsitsipas will play Alexander Zverev who beat Cristian Garin 7-5 6-2 which will be the third time the two players have met in a Masters semi-final.
“It was a high-level match. At times it wasn’t pretty tennis, but I got the job done and that is the most important thing,” the German said afterwards.
“I am through to the semi-finals and I am happy about that.”

Highlights: Zverev beats Garin in straight sets to secure Rome semi-final spot

Ahead of Tsitsipas' meeting with Zverev, the Greek said: "We have similar game styles but he is one of the most difficult players to play against on the tour.
"I have a lot of respect for him. He has achieved a lot so far and I try and look up to him with the things he has achieved."
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