World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is through to his 12th Rome Open semi-final following a hard-fought 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in three hours and 16 minutes. It was Novak's fourth straight victory over Stefanos, working for it over two days and in different conditions.
The Monte Carlo champion and the ATP Race leader had the match in his hands, playing well during the rain on Friday and opening a set and a break lead. This morning, they returned to the court in improved conditions, with Novak doing his best to pull the break back, grab the second set, and force a decider.
The Greek stayed competitive and built a 3-1 advantage and four more break chances in game five that could have sent him over the top had he converted any.
Novak Djokovic shared his thoughts about tight victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Gaining a boost, Novak pulled the break back in game six and stood as the favorite in the rest of the clash.
Instead, Tsitsipas secured a break at 4-4 that pushed him a game away from the finish line, serving for a place in the semis in game ten. Like many times before, Djokovic presented his incredible mental strength, pulled the break back and earned another in game 12 to cross the finish line first and start a massive celebration.
After the match, Novak stated that Stefanos was the better player on Friday and earlier today. Still, he felt better on the court once they stepped on the court today, eager to give his best and overpower all the obstacles and emerge at the top.
"Stefanos and I played in different conditions yesterday and today; it's like there were two matches. He was the better player yesterday, building a set and a break lead before we stopped due to the rain. Stefanos made a good start today, but I felt I would have my chances in these conditions, feeling energetic and pumped.
Maybe I could have won the second set earlier and made the better start in the third; overall, it was a mighty close encounter that went down to the wire. Stefanos was up a break twice in the third and served for the win before I made a comeback.
I kept fighting and tried to stay in the match mentally, and it turned out to be the right approach in the end," Novak Djokovic said.