World no. 1 and the five-time champion Novak Djokovic will compete in the 12th Rome Open semi-final following a thrilling 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in three hours and 16 minutes! Novak scored the fourth straight victory over Stefanos, trailing 3-1 and 5-4 in the decider and making a comeback to remain on the title course.
The Greek saved 17 out of 23 break chances and served for the victory, only to waste his opportunities and finish the campaign in the quarters. Novak had 42 winners and 35 unforced errors, forging the advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to overpower the rival and move into the next round, where he plays later today.
The young Greek grabbed a break in the first game following a forehand drive-volley winner at the net and fended off two break chances in game two to cement the lead. Stefanos brought the game home with a service winner before Djokovic held at love to get his name on the scoreboard.
Struggling in rainy conditions, both players had to work hard in the fourth game, with six deuces and three break chances for Novak up for grabs. Tsitsipas saved those with brave hitting and brought the game home with a service winner after ten minutes to open a 3-1 gap.
Wasting his opportunities in the previous game, Novak got broken at 15 in game five to send Stefanos 4-1 in front after a costly double fault. The Serb pulled one break back in game six to reduce the deficit and landed an ace for a hold at 15 and 3-4.
They had to leave the court after that and return after 18:30 to continue the encounter. Stefanos brought the first game home with a service winner that sent him 5-3 up, serving for the set in game ten. Showing no sign of nerves, the Greek fired an unreturned serve for 6-4 in 50 minutes, hoping for more of the same in set number two.
Novak held at love in the second set's opening game before Stefanos repeated that for 1-1.
Novak Djokovic came from 5-4 down in the decider to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic couldn't produce another comfortable hold and netted a forehand in game three to fall 2-1 behind, drifting further away from the finish line.
That turned out to be the last point of the day on Friday, with the rain sending them away from the court and shifting the action to Saturday. Both players served well in the opening four games this morning, with Tsitsipas serving to stay in front at 4-3.
Djokovic made one last push on the return and seized the fifth break chance with a beautiful forehand down the line winner that drew him back to 4-4. Novak fended off three break chances in game nine with winners and hit two powerful serves to bring the game home and move 5-4 ahead.
Tsitsipas forced Djokovic's mistake in the tenth game to lock the result at 5-5 and prolong the set. Novak delivered an excellent hold in game 11 with a backhand winner, sending the pressure back to Stefanos' side of the court.
The Greek couldn't endure it this time, as the Serb converted the fourth set point with a forehand down the line winner to take the set 7-5 and force a decider. Starting all over, Tsitsipas grabbed a break at 1-1 following Djokovic's poor drop shot, with the Serb slamming his racquet and receiving a warning.
Stefanos confirmed the break after saving two break chances in game four and had a massive opportunity to break Novak's resistance on the return at 3-1. Djokovic saved four break chances to survive and bring the game home, remaining within one break deficit.
Novak broke back after another backhand mistake from his rival in game six, leveling the score and increasing the drama. With no room for errors, Stefanos fired a service winner in game eight for 4-4 and earned two break chances with a forehand down the line winner in the next one.
After an incredible rally, the Greek converted the second to open a 5-4 gap and serve for the victory. Stefanos faced two break points in that tenth game, and Novak converted the second to lock the result at 5-5 and give the crowd something to cheer about.
Djokovic wasted two game points in game 11 and hit a poor drop shot to offer his rival a break chance. He saved it with a good serve and a smash winner at the net and held when Stefanos netted a forehand to move 6-5 up. Djokovic produced the crucial break in the 12th game to move over the finish line advance into the 12th Rome semi-final.