Novak Djokovic battled intensively with an inspired Felix Auger-Aliassime on the exciting last quarter-final match of the day at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The Canadian showed all his improvements on the surface and challenged the world number one on a match where ‘Nole’ was fighting for more than a spot in the last four. In a rollercoaster of a match, the first seed got broken while serving for the first set and later failed a match point up 5-3 in the second, only to be forced to a tiebreak. Once there, he dominated his rival a cruised to a high-quality victory.
“I thought it was a high-level tennis. Difficult conditions playing at night, slower, the ball bounces lower”, said the world number one: “He has the lethal serve honestly. He’s also returning well, moving well. He’s a very complete player. Yeah, he did ask me to raise the level. I thought I could have finished the job earlier. I was a set and 5-2, match point, serving for the match. Credit to him for fighting back. Amazing atmosphere as well tonight”.
By reaching the semi-final, Djokovic defended the points he needed to hold on to the first place in the world rankings and is now just one win short of 1000 career successes.
His next rival en route to the final and that amazing accomplishment will be Casper Ruud, just like in 2020. Ruud played a solid match to take down Denis Shapovalov and return to the final four in Rome.
“It was a challenging and tough match”, he commented: “I think it was good level from both players. We were both serving very well. It was not easy to break each other. I was lucky to get one break point of I think it was 14 or 15”.
“I was struggling a little bit on the break points”, he joked about it: “All in all I knew I was doing the right things and giving myself some chances. Yeah, I’m happy that I was able to play better when I really had to in the most important moments”.