Djokovic beats del Potro to reach Italian Open semifinals

Ruben Hill
May 21, 2017

Novak Djokovic is through to the Italian Open final after defeating Dominic Thiem in Rome.

Alexander "Sascha" Zverev became the youngest Masters Series finalist in a decade when he beat American veteran John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1 at the Italian Open on Saturday.

Djokovic, a four-time champion at the Foro Italico, had to finish off a quarter-final against Juan Martin del Potro to start his day after a thunderstorm interruption the night before.

The Serbian second seed will now play Austrian Dominic Thiem, who shocked seven times victor Rafa Nadal on Friday but has lost his previous four encounters with Djokovic, in the evening semi-final.

This will be Djokovic's eighth final in Rome, where he won in 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2015.

Halep took the title in Madrid last weekend. The second set was no less tight, with not a break point to be found until the tie-break - John Isner taking full advantage to build up a 5-0 lead, before Zverev reeled off five of the next six points, saving three set points before losing the second set.

In the opening set, Zverev won 20 of his 22 points on serve to Isner's 19 of 29, and over the course of the match he struck more aces: 12 to 8.

"It was my best performance of the year", said Djokovic after his 59-minute win over Thiem who had knocked out Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.

"I'm happy the way I'm playing, but I still want to keep improving and I still want to develop my game and get better".

Zverev won most of the longer rallies, displayed a well-disguised drop shot, made precise volleys and even served bigger than Isner, who is usually one of the best servers on tour.

"Also it was the first time for me to play on such a high level for three weeks or more, and today I paid a little bit the price for that". It was a ideal match. "Against Novak, it's really tough for me to play, because he doesn't give me any time", he said. I wasn't even born yet.

The move, which he described as "shock therapy", appears to have already paid dividends as Djokovic, who lost his top ranking to Murray at the end of 2016, produced a devastating display against one of the game's new luminaries.

"It's a great beginning of his professional career he has had so far and he deserves to be in the final, but I'm going to make sure he doesn't get his hands on that trophy tomorrow".

In the women's tournament, fourthranked Simona Halep advanced to the final and extended her clay-court winning streak to 10 matches with a 7-5, 6-1victory over Kiki Bertens.

In the WTA event, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was forced to retire due to a neck injury from her semi-final against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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