Novak Djokovic on Friday took his place in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/1) win over Felix Auger-Aliassime, which guaranteed that he would remain world No. 1 for a 370th week, while in the women’s singles Iga Swiatek stretched her winning streak to 27 matches and Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching was eliminated in the women’s doubles.
Top seed Djokovic is chasing a sixth title in Rome ahead of Roland Garros later this month and needed more than two hours win a match that featured some magnificent tennis from big-hitting Auger-Aliassime.
Auger-Aliassime of Canada crashed in serves topping 200kph, hitting 11 aces, and showed a wide range of bold shots in his first match against the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
The 21-year-old, who won his first ATP tournament in Rotterdam in February, even went toe-to-toe in rallies with Djokovic, drawing applause from the Serb early in the match with one particularly deft drop-shot.
Djokovic showed touches of class, exemplified by a lob at the end of a rally that broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in game 6 of the second set to move the 35-year-old 4-2 ahead.
Auger-Aliassime brought the crowd to their feet by fighting back to take the set to a tie-break, where his brave resistance finally met its end.
Djokovic was to play Casper Ruud in the semis after press time last night.
Stefanos Tsitsipas made the semis by beating local hero Jannick Sinner 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 in a clash that was stopped for more than 10 minutes at match point after a spectator fell ill.
Tsitsipas was to play Alexander Zverev.
Earlier, Swiatek beat Bianca Andreescu, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 before winning 6-2, 6-1 in her semi-final yesterday against Aryna Sabalenka, who reached the last-four with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win against Amanda Anisimova.
Ons Jabeur was to play Daria Kasatkina after press time.
In her quarter-final, she bounced back from being a game away from defeat to beat Maria Sakkari 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Kasatkina had an easier time after Jil Tiechmann retired injured while the Russian was leading 6-4, 3-2.
In the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles, Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos of Mexico defeated Chan and Japanese partner Shuko Aoyama 7-5, 2-6, 10-5.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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