Italian Open: Novak Djokovic records 1,000th career win to book place in another Rome final

Djokovic will face Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas after a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud in Rome; World No 1’s win is the 1,000th of his professional career and secures a 12th appearance in the Italian Open final

Last Updated: 14/05/22 9:57pm

Novak Djokovic is through to the ATP Masters 1000 final in Rome

World number one Novak Djokovic recorded his 1,000th career victory as he beat Casper Ruud in straight sets to book a place in the final of the Italian Open.

Djokovic had moved 4-0 ahead before Ruud, the world No 10, briefly rallied with a break back of his own at 5-3, but the Norwegian could not save the set slipping away.

The second set proved much closer, staying on serve until the seventh game when Djokovic eventually converted a fourth break-point chance.

A comfortable hold put the Serbian on the brink of a landmark victory, which he delivered with another break, smashing a forehand crosscourt return, to progress 6-4 6-4 through to Sunday’s final.

“Thanks to the tournament and the crowd for celebrating the milestone with me,” Djokovic said. “Obviously I’ve seen Roger and Rafa celebrate those milestones in the last couple of years. I was looking forward to get to that thousand myself. I’m really, really blessed to have that many victories on the tour.

“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.”

Djokovic will now face world No 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the Italian Open final for the first time after rallying to defeat Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening semi-final.

Djokovic will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final

Djokovic will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final

Tsitsipas, who will rise to fourth in the new ATP rankings next week, overcame Zverev as he stayed consistent from the baseline and strong on serve throughout.

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 set.

Tsitsipas also won the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this season

Tsitsipas also won the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this season

Tsitsipas struck first in the decider, earning a break to lead 3-2 when Zverev sent a forehand into the net. Tsitsipas then broke the Zverev serve again to eventually claim a comfortable victory, as the German’s game went off the boil.

The 23-year-old now has a Tour-leading 31 match wins this year and leads his head-to-head record 8-4 against Zverez, who is yet to win a title this season.

Swiatek extends winning streak to reach final

Defending Italian Open champion Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 27 matches to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets and book her place in the final, where she will face Ons Jabeur for the title.

Swiatek is unbeaten in singles matches since February

Swiatek is unbeaten in singles matches since February

The 20-year-old world No 1 from Poland progressed 6-2 6-1 against the eighth seed to become the first player since Simona Halep in 2017 to make four WTA 1000 finals in a single season.

“At these tournaments where we play day after day, we don’t really get time to celebrate. Right after we finish the previous match, we have to think about the next one,” Swiatek said in her post-match interview. “It is pretty tough, but I know that after I am going to be really proud of myself.”

Swiatek has already enjoyed WTA 1000 victories in Qatar, Indian Wells and Miami this season

Swiatek has already enjoyed WTA 1000 victories in Qatar, Indian Wells and Miami this season

Tunisia’s Jabeur needed three sets to get past Russian Daria Kasatkina, eventually coming through 6-4 1-6 7-5 having saved a match point. The ninth seed is seeking a second consecutive WTA title triumph after claiming last week’s Madrid Open.

“It was a tough one for me not being 100 per cent there, so I am pretty glad that I got the win and into the final again,” Jabuer said. “I am exhausted, yes, but it is part of my job. It is going to help me push more tomorrow. There is only one match left.”

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