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PIX: Djokovic, Tsitsipas in Italian Open showdown

Last updated on: May 15, 2022 06:48 IST
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Novak Djokovic is only the fifth man in the Open Era to reach the 1,000 wins milestone after Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Norway's Casper Ruud in the semi-finals of the  ATP Masters 1000 Italian Open, at Foro Italico, in Rome, on Saturday.

IMAGE: Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Norway's Casper Ruud in the semi-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 Italian Open, at Foro Italico, in Rome, on Saturday. Photograph: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

World number one Novak Djokovic earned his 1,000th tour-level victory by beating Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

Djokovic will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the title clash on Sunday, with the Serbian playing in the final in Rome for the fourth straight time and 12th overall.

 

It will be a repeat of last year's French Open final, which Djokovic won after fighting back from two sets down.

"Again, another final against him in one of the biggest tournaments we have in the world," Djokovic told reporters.

"He's definitely in form. I can expect a big battle, but I'm ready for it."

The 34-year-old is only the fifth man in the Open Era to reach the 1,000 wins milestone after Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal.

"I've seen Roger and Rafa celebrate those milestones in the last couple years. I was looking forward to get to that thousand myself," Djokovic said.

"It's been a long time, ever since I played my first match, ever since I won my first match on the tour. Hopefully, I can keep going."

Playing under the lights, Djokovic broke Norwegian Ruud's service twice to earn a commanding 4-0 lead as the top seed made a fast start.

Ruud broke Djokovic at 5-3 down and held his serve but the 20-times major winner closed out the set.

In the second set, Ruud saved three break points in the seventh game before Djokovic broke for a 4-3 lead.

Djokovic broke Ruud again as he wrapped up victory in one hour 42 minutes and the Serbian will seek a record-extending 38th ATP Masters 1000 title in Sunday's final.

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates beating Germany's Alexander Zverev.

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates beating Germany's Alexander Zverev in the other semi-final. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Earlier, world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the Rome final for the first time after the Greek rallied to defeat Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Tsitsipas, who will rise to fourth in the ATP rankings next week, will be bidding for his third Masters 1000 title on Sunday.

In the third claycourt Masters 1000 semi-final between the pair this season, Tsitsipas overcame Zverev as he stayed consistent from the baseline and strong on serve.

"Battle of the serves," Tsitsipas said. "Battle of being able to take that first shot after the serve and really put quite a lot of pressure to it, which I think I was able to do really well in the third set.

"I was able to return a few on the third a bit more than him, get the ball in play, stay in those rallies, not give away much.

"I was really trying to stay there as long as possible and make every single one count."

Zverev was clinical in the opening set with his first serve working like clockwork, but the German dropped a set for the first time in this year's tournament as Tsitsipas raised his own level in the second.

Tsitsipas struck first in the decider, earning a break to lead 3-2 when Zverev sent a forehand into the net.

Tsitsipas broke the Zverev serve again to claim a comfortable victory and he now has a Tour-leading 31 match wins this year and leads his head-to-head against Zverev 8-4.

Zverev is yet to win a title this season.

Swiatek crushes Sabalenka to reach Italian Open final

Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates victory over Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals.

IMAGE: Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates victory over Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

World number one Iga Swiatek swept aside third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 in a lopsided contest in Rome on Saturday to advance to an Italian Open final against Ons Jabeur.

Swiatek extended her winning run to 27 matches, matching the tally set by Serena Williams in 2015, as she outclassed Sabalenka in just over an hour to reach her fifth consecutive WTA final.

"I'm just constantly surprising myself that I an do better and better," Poland's Swiatek said.

"I feel like I actually can believe now that the sky's the limit. That's the fun part, for sure.

"At these tournaments where we play day after day, we don't really get time to celebrate... But I know that afterwards I'm going to be really proud of myself."

Swiatek broke Sabalenka twice in the opening set to build a 3-1 lead before closing it out in around 30 minutes and continued the onslaught as she went 4-0 ahead in the second.

World number eight Sabalenka, who won only two of her service games, received a medical timeout at 4-1 down but it only delayed the inevitable.

Sabalenka finished with 31 unforced errors, twice as many as Swiatek who hit 15 winners en route to victory to equal Williams' streak which began in the 2014 WTA finals.

The 20-year-old improved her overall head-to-head record with Sabalenka to 3-1, having also won both of their meetings earlier this year -- the Stuttgart final and Doha quarter-finals -- in straight sets.

"I'm pretty happy that I learned the lessons from previous matches," Swiatek said. "I felt like I was letting my opponents come back a little bit. This time, I wanted to put pressure on from the beginning until the end."

Swiatek will take on Tunisia's Jabeur in Sunday's final after she beat Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to claim her 11th victory on the bounce having won her first WTA 1000 title in Madrid last week.

Ninth seed Jabeur took a topsy-turvy opening set where neither player was able to get into a rhythm but Kasatkina continued to play aggressively in the second and dominated as unforced errors began creeping into her opponent's game.

Jabeur was unable to put away a straightforward smash in the decider and handed Kasatkina a break point at 4-4 before she saved a match point in the next game and broke back to level, closing out the win with a trademark drop shot.

"Ons is a pretty tricky player with all the slices and drop shots, changing of rhythm," Swiatek said.

"I have played against her a few times, it was always hard. It's going to be a nice final and she deserves to be there."

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Source: REUTERS
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IPL 2022

IPL 2022