The Serb achieved this by beating Félix Auger-Aliassime at the Italian Open
Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic retained his best ranking on the men’s ATP Tour after beating Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Italian Open.
Djokovic risked having Daniil Medvedev replace him at the top again if he failed to advance to the semi-finals of the current tournament.
Yet he prevented that by beating his Canadian opponent 7-5 7-6(1) and advancing to the last four while shooting less than a single win in 1,000 career wins.
Djokovic applauded his 21-year-old opponent for the stamina he showed in the rallies, with the pair neck and neck at various points in the tight game.
“He has the deadly serve honestly… It was not at all easy for me to come back. He also comes back well, moves well. He is a very complete player”,Djokovic explained to reporters afterwards.
“I was one set and 5-2, match point, serving for the game. Thanks to him for fighting back. Amazing atmosphere too tonight.”
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 13, 2022
Following his triumph, Djokovic will next face Norway’s Casper Ruud, who beat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 7-6(7) 7-5.
On the other side of the table, world number three Alexander Zverev will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the final after beating Cristian Garin 7-5 6-2.
“I think it was a top game” said Zverev, who won the tournament in 2007. “Sometimes it wasn’t good tennis, but I got the job done and that’s the most important thing.”
Savoring the chance to face Zverev again after two confrontations already in 2022 in Monte Carlo and Madrid, Tsisipas described Zverev as a “player who challenges me when I’m on the pitch”.
“He has a lot of experience on the tour, much earlier than when I started playing here. We have similar styles of play, but he’s one of the toughest players on the tour,” Zverev added.
The Rome Open is one of the last tournaments before the May 22 French Open where Medvedev has been tipped to return following hernia surgery.
On May 18, the defending US Open champion will play a round of 16 against an as-yet-unknown opponent at the Geneva Open, but can play Roland Garros without fearing the restrictions seen at Wimbledon for Russian athletes after receiving the green light in France. .
“We maintain the line of what all European governments – and other governments – decided in March, that is to say the national teams of Russia and Belarus banned, but not the athletes as individuals , as long as they play in strict neutrality”, Roland-Garros tournament director Amélie Mauresmo told French radio this week.
“We will be very meticulous about it”,she swore.
“[But] if any of them make pro-Putin statements in the media, there will definitely be sanctions.”