Novak Djokovic, great favorite in the Masters 1000 in Rome after the elimination on Thursday of the reigning champion Rafael Nadal, qualified this Friday for the semifinals by winning a very high-level duel against the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime (9th in the world) 7- 5, 7-6 (7/1).

This hard-fought victory assures the Serbian to keep on Monday the N.1 of the world hierarchy, which would have passed into the hands of the Russian Daniil Medvedev in case of defeat before the semifinals.

The Serbian, already a five-time winner on the clay of the eternal city, will face the Norwegian Casper Ruud (10th) in the semifinals, just like his last title at the Foro Italico, in 2020.

In his first duel with ‘Nole’, an excellent Auger-Aliassime did everything possible to beat the Serbian, relying above all on his devastating serve and a great palette of shots.

The 21-year-old Canadian, winner of his first ATP tournament in February (in Rotterdam), forced the Serbian to a tie-break in the second set.

But ‘Nole’ was cold-blooded and ended up taking the match in 2 hours and 10 minutes, in what was his 999th victory on the circuit. In case of another victory on Saturday, he will enter the select group of players with 1,000 or more wins (along with Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal).

Before, the German Alexander Zverev, number 3 in the world, achieved his pass to the semifinals of the Rome tournament by beating the Chilean Cristian Garín (45th) 7-5, 6-2 and will face the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated 7- 6 (7/5), 6-2 to Italian Jannik Sinner.

After ten close games, Zverev broke Garin to take a 6-5 lead and close out the first set on serve. In the second set, the German broke the Chilean’s service in the first game to lead a new victory.

Zverev, finalist in Madrid last Sunday, will face the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (5th) in the semifinals, who struggled to win the first set in the ‘tie break’ against the Italian Jannik Sinner (13th), who after the effort, asked medical break.

In the second round, with fewer difficulties, the Greek managed to close the pass to the semifinal with his second match point, after an interruption of about ten minutes due to a medical emergency in the stands.

This will be the third time that Zverev and Tsitsipas have met in a semi-final this season: the Greek emerged victorious in April during the Monte Carlo tournament in straight sets (6-4, 6-2), which he would go on to win.

A week ago, in Madrid, it was the German who achieved victory in three sets (6-3, 3-6, 6-2), although he lost the final against the Spanish Carlos Alcaraz.

In the women’s draw, the number 1 in the world and current champion of the Rome tournament, the Polish Iga Swiatek, remains intractable, and beat the Canadian Bianca Andreescu (90th) 7-6 (7-2), 6-0.

Swiatek, who did not participate in the Madrid tournament to rest his sore right arm, has gone 26 games without defeat and is one game away from his fifth final in five tournaments played this season.

To achieve this, she must beat the Belarusian Alyna Sabalenka (8th) in the semifinals, who managed to beat the American Amanda Anisimova (32nd) in the quarterfinals 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Swiatek and Sabalenka already met in the final of the Stuttgart tournament at the end of April, with the Pole winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.

The other semifinal will be played by the Tunisian Ons Jabeur and the Russian Darya Kasatkina.

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