Djokovic prevented Medvedev from going first
The Rome tournament on Thursday was deprived of one of the main intrigues as the expected semifinal battle between Nadal and Djokovic will not take place since Rafael lost in the third round to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov. It must be noted that starting from the second set the defending champion had a significant problem with his leg. By the end of the match the Spaniard was not even able to hide his limp and a significant pain. It’s unclear whether Rafa will be able to recover for Roland Garros, which starts in 10 days.
Djokovic, who played a year ago against Nadal in the Italian capital, has reached the quarterfinals this season with confidence. As a high seeded Novak skipped the first round, but then defeated Russian Aslan Karatsev (6-3, 6-2) and Swiss Stan Wawrinka (6-2, 6-2) without much trouble. The Serb was pleased with his level, but also noted the return of Wawrinka: “It’s great to see Stan on the court. I’m glad he’s winning again. He’s got two wins here. Obviously he’s not at his best right now. But it’s Stan Wawrinka, he can be uncomfortable. I was good from the beginning. Made him move a lot in the corners. I’m satisfied with my game.”
Note that in addition to advancing on the net and fighting for the title, Djokovic has another important goal at this tournament – to secure his first place in the ATP rankings. Next Monday May 16 Novak will lose 600 points on his last year’s final, while his pursuer, Daniil Medvedev, will get only 10. As a result, the difference between them will be 320 points in favor of the Russian. Novak had to reach at least the semifinals this year to close it. The quarter-final match against Felix Auger-Allassim of Canada was crucial for Djokovic.
Felix and Novak had never met before Rome, but of course Djokovic had heard a lot about his opponent: “I think he’s really improving on the ground. He’s been working with Toni Nadal in recent years. Of course, Tony has had a positive effect on his game. He’s an established top-20 ranking player. Can be in the top 10, he has a very complex game. Felix is a nice guy who works hard. He’s one of the leaders of the new generation. We must point out that the Canadian had a streak of eight lost finals, but with the arrival of Toni Nadal he was able to win his first title – Rotterdam 2022.
The tennis players held their serves for a long time and got close to other people’s serves. The important game was the 5th game, in which Djokovic scored a break point. He was the first to break – 5-3, but didn’t serve again – 5-4. It seemed to be a tie-break, but in the last game again Novak broke his opponent’s serve and won the game – 7-5 in 53 minutes. In the second set the two players again controlled their serves for a long time, but in the sixth game Djokovic broke the tiebreak at the fourth attempt, 4-2. Felix immediately rallied in the next game but didn’t capitalize on his chances and still during his opponent’s serve the Canadian made a reverse break – 5:4. This time it came down to a tie-break, where Novak was stronger and achieved a difficult but important victory – 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) in 2 hours and 12 minutes.
That’s how Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals, scored 360 points at the Rome 2022 tournament and retained his No. 1 ATP ranking for at least another week. This means the Serb will be seeded No. 1 at Roland Garros, and Daniil Medvedev will get No. 2. Djokovic will play in the semi-finals in Rome against Norwegian Kasper Ruud who knocked out Denis Shapovalov.