Djokovic storms into Italian Open semis

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Top seed Novak Djokovic has beaten Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5 7-6 (7-1) to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open and move within one win of 1,000 career victories.

By reaching the semis in Rome, the Serb also retained his world No.1 ranking and avoided surrendering top spot to Russian Daniil Medvedev for the second time this year.

Djokovic and Auger-Aliassime were neck and neck until the Serb broke to lead 5-3, but the eighth seed fought back.

It proved only a blip though as Djokovic wrapped up the opening set in style.

The 21-year-old Aliassime was applauded by Djokovic for his display of endurance in rallies but again fell 5-3 behind, only to drag himself back into the contest again.

Having forced a tiebreak though, Aliassime was no match for Djokovic who found another gear when required.

Djokovic will next face Norwegian fifth seed Casper Ruud, who continued his good form on European clay as he claimed a hard-fought 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 win over Canada's Denis Shapovalov.

"He has the lethal serve honestly ... It was not easy for me at all to return. He's also returning well, moving well. He's a very complete player," Djokovic told reporters.

"I was a set and 5-2, match point, serving for the match. Credit to him for fighting back. Amazing atmosphere as well tonight."

World No.3 Alexander Zverev remained on course to win his first title of the season by beating Cristian Garin to set up a semi-final with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Zverev, who won the title in Rome in 2017, eased into the last four with a 7-5 6-2 win.

It was their first meeting since Garin upset him on home soil en route to winning the ATP 250 event in Munich three years ago.

Tsitsipas saw off home favourite Jannik Sinner 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

The 25-year-old German will face Tsitsipas in the semi-finals of an ATP tournament for the third time in the space of a month, after the world No.5 kept his composure in front of a raucous crowd to beat Sinner.

The 23-year-old beat Zverev in Monte Carlo before clinching the title in April, but the German avenged his defeat in Madrid last week.

"He's a player that challenges me when I'm out on the court," Tsitsipas said of Zverev. "He has a lot of experience on the tour, much earlier than when I started playing here.

"We have similar game styles but he is one of the most difficult players on the tour. I have a lot of respect for him. He has achieved a lot so far and I try and look up to him."

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