World no. 1 and the defending Rome Open champion Novak Djokovic had a busy day at the office at Foro Italico on Saturday. The Serb came from a set and a break down to prevail over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters, delivering the crucial break when the Greek served for the victory to remain on the title course and set the clash against the home star Lorenzo Sonego in the afternoon sessions.
Fighting in his first Masters 1000 semi-final and carried by his partisan crowd, Sonego gave his 120% to challenge the five-time Rome champion. Lorenzo saved two match points in the second set to force a decider before Novak prevailed 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 after two hours and 44 minutes to advance into the 11th Rome Open final and set the 57th clash against Rafael Nadal.
The Serb lost serve only once, fending off six out of seven break chances and delivering four breaks from 12 opportunities, enough to carry him over the top in a high-quality encounter that saw over 70 winners and only 50 unforced errors.
Sonego hit a service winner in every fourth point behind the initial shot to follow Djokovic's pace in the shortest range up to four strokes. Novak took charge in the more extended rallies to bring the victory home, starting all over in the decider and breaking the rival's resistance with two breaks on his tally.
Novak Djokovic shared thoughts about challenging victory over Lorenzo Sonego.
Speaking about the match, Novak admitted that he should have closed it earlier, having those two match points while serving for the win and squandering a 4-2 advantage in the tie break.
Praising Sonego, Djokovic explained that his rival gave his best in front of the home crowd before he overpowered him in the decider to advance into the title clash. "I think I should have finished the match earlier, serving for the win at 6-5 in the second and creating those two match points.
I couldn't find the first serve and made some errors, wasting a 4-2 advantage in the tie break. Only myself to blame for having to play a decider. On the other hand, Sonego fought really well, showing why he reached the first Masters 1000 semi-final.
The crowd was behind him, carrying him towards the third set, where I managed to break his resistance and bring the victory home in the right way," Novak Djokovic said.