The Serbian Novak Djokovic knocked out this Friday, in the quarterfinals of the Masters 1,000 in Rome, the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime in two sets, 7-5 and 7-6 (1), and meets in the semifinals with the Norwegian Casper Ruud.
The brave Canadian with the number 1 in the world could not on the central court of the Foro Italico. The first duel between the two tennis players falls on the side of the favorite, who had to push himself to the maximum to counteract the onslaught of his young rival and maintain the first position in the ATP ranking, who would have yielded to the Russian Daniil Medvedev in case he had succumbed in the Italian clay during this day.
And it is that Auger-Aliassime, called to be one of the greats of his generation, made 'Nole' sweat, mainly with his serves during the first set, where he signed six direct hits. He was not short in the second, in which he finished five 'aces', eleven in total.
Djokovic, who was not comfortable at the beginning of the match, countered with long exchanges of blows in which he gained confidence to land two forehands that raised the Italian public. Little by little the Serbian was becoming great.
He broke the serve of the Canadian, number 9 in the world, and went up 5-3 to get the first set back on track, but Auger-Aliassime recovered and took the serve from the favorite in the next game, annulling the 'break'. It seemed that the first stake was going to tie-break, but the number 1 figure appeared at the key moment to break another service and get ahead on the scoreboard.
The second manga was different. The Serbian started better, Auger-Aliassime seemed to deflate a bit, and managed to break the Canadian, after three break balls to get 4-2.
Novak promised them happily, but just at that moment, Auger-Aliassime began his resistance, in which he enjoyed two balls to recover his serve that put the Serbian in tension, until he managed to confirm the break and go up 5-2. He celebrated 'Nole', fist raised, releasing the tension of the previous game, without being aware that everything was not said.
But the 21-year-old tennis player continued his brilliant exercise of resistance against a winner of twenty Grand Slams, whom he sent to the canvas with three games in a row to even the contest (5-5). The public already had their favorite of the night, which they encouraged and celebrated whenever there was an opportunity.
Auger-Aliassime kept his serve and tried to extend the match to the third set by breaking the Serb. He managed to lengthen it until a 'tie-break' in which both displayed their gala shots, but in which Djokovic sent a superb dropshot, angled balls and a waste of physique that allowed him to reach all of his rival's.
Djokovic did not fail in another key moment, breaking three Auger-Aliassime serves in the final tie break and reaching the semifinals without dropping a single set. He is the only one who has achieved it along with the German Alexander Zverev.
The Serbian celebrated defiantly, putting a hand to his ear. In the semifinals, Djokovic will face Norwegian Casper Ruud (today, 7:30 p.m.), number 10 in the ranking, who eliminated Canadian Denis Shapovalov in two sets on Friday. The other semifinal will be starred by Tsitsipas and Zverev (today, at 2:30 p.m.).