It was simply the kind of scrambling, wear-down-the-opponent mentality and shot-making that took Novak Djokovic to inside one match of a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2021.
A spectacle that was lacking for a lot of this yr when Djokovic didn’t play as a result of he wasn’t vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus.
The top-ranked Djokovic introduced the Foro Italico crowd to its ft with a number of memorable factors in a 7-5 7-6 (1) win over Felix Auger-Aliassime to achieve the Italian Open semifinals on Friday.
To conclude a protracted rally, Djokovic produced a fragile backhand topspin lob winner over the leaping Auger-Aliassime to interrupt serve and lead 4-2 within the second set.
Djokovic celebrated the lob winner by elevating each of his arms above his head then urged the packed crowd on Campo Centrale to cheer louder by gesturing together with his arms.
“It was high-level tennis,” Djokovic mentioned. “He did ask me to raise the level and I had to play consistently well.” While he’s nonetheless searching for his first title of the yr, Djokovic was ensured by the victory of holding on to the No. 1 rating for one more week and have the highest seed on the French Open.
What. An. ENDING 🤯@DjokerNole & @felixtennis with some UNBELIEVABLE tennis to finish their late night time epic in Rome!#IBI22 @InteBNLdItalia pic.twitter.com/i0tsyStr0h
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 13, 2022
Second-ranked Daniil Medvedev can not move Djokovic when the rankings are up to date on Monday.
Roland Garros begins in 9 days and Djokovic is gearing up for his first Grand Slam event of the yr after he was deported from Australia earlier than the Australian Open.
Playing the ninth-ranked Auger-Aliassime for the primary time, Djokovic took a while earlier than he began studying the Canadian’s large serve. Then he stepped up his recreation and hit an off-balance cross-court forehand winner to interrupt and take the primary set.
Auger-Aliassime confirmed some contact early on when he pulled off a backhand half-volley winner to conclude a protracted rally within the second recreation.
In the tip, although, it was Djokovic — enjoying his sixteenth consecutive quarterfinal on the clay-court event — who gained all the large factors. Like when he ran down two smashes and responded with two defensive lobs earlier than stepping in to whip a cross-court backhand winner through the tiebreaker.
Novak Djokovic will play for his
TOMORROW 😨@DjokerNole #IBI22 pic.twitter.com/RlB0PaYLJa
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 13, 2022
Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will probably be Casper Ruud, who beat Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7) 7-5.
Shapovalov eradicated 10-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal — who was coping with a chronically injured left foot — on Thursday.
Also, fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas served 10 aces to defeat Jannik Sinner 7-6 (5) 6-2 to achieve his third consecutive Masters semifinal on clay.
Tsitsipas will face Alexander Zverev of their third semifinal during the last month after the 2017 champion beat Cristian Garin 7-5 6-2.
In the ladies’s event, Iga Swiatek prolonged her successful streak to 26 matches by beating former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 7-6 (2) 6-0.
Swiatek struggled to deal with being a top-five participant final yr. Now she’s discovered use her current success to intimidate.
“I needed time to learn how to do that properly, how to use the streak or ranking to put pressure on my opponents,” Swiatek mentioned.
“Last year when I had (a) better ranking (than opponents), it felt like it’s something that’s pressuring me down. This time it’s totally different.” In all, Swiatek produced 27 winners to Andreescu’s 12 and transformed all six of her break factors.
“I feel like every match I’m playing better and better,” Swiatek mentioned.
“Even although the primary set was fairly tight, I had some ups and downs, I really feel like I might play effectively in essential moments and break again anytime.
“I’m pretty happy that also the second set was more solid because it shows that I’m learning my lessons throughout the whole match.” Swiatek is making an attempt to win her fifth straight event and defend her title in Rome.
The final participant to win extra consecutive matches was Serena Williams in 2014-15, when she had a streak of 27.
Swiatek’s semifinal opponent will probably be third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who rallied previous Amanda Anisimova 4-6 6-3 6-2 for her first victory over the American in 5 tries.
Also advancing was current Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur, who rallied previous Maria Sakkari, 1-6 7-5 6-1 for her tenth straight win. Jabeur will face Daria Kasatkina, who superior when Jil Teichmann retired as a result of a left thigh damage with Kasatkina forward 6-4 3-2.
Tsitsipas saved his cool whereas practically the whole crowd of 10,500 followers supported Sinner, the Italian who’s ranked thirteenth and regarded a future Grand Slam contender.
But the 20-year-old Sinner dropped to 0-12 in his profession in opposition to opponents ranked within the high 5.
Sinner was handled by a bodily coach after twisting his left hip through the last level of the primary set.
His physique continues to be growing bodily.
“That’s where the gap is,” Sinner mentioned.
“In terms of tennis, I’m there. Physically, I need to improve.”