Novak Djokovic joins Federer and Nadal in historic tennis feat

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Novak Djokovic, pictured here after recording his 1000th career victory.
Novak Djokovic has recorded his 1000th career victory. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic has become the fifth player in ATP history to record 1000 career wins, marching into the Italian Open final in the process.

The World No.1 beat Casper Ruud 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to reach his second final of the year.

The Serb became just the fifth man in the Open era to reach the 1000 victories mark, joining Jimmy Connors (1274 wins), Roger Federer (1251), Ivan Lendl (1068) and Rafael Nadal (1051).

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After the match, Djokovic was presented with a cake with '1000' written on it.

"I was seeing Roger and Rafa celebrating those milestones and I was looking forward to get to 1000 myself," he said.

"If I can pick the two places in the world where I would want to celebrate the 1000th win it's in Serbia and here in Rome. Let's go for another 1000."

Having missed a big portion of the season because of his vaccination status, Djokovic will attempt to extend his five-match winning streak over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final.

"I can expect a big battle," he said. "But I'm ready for it."

Tsitsipas earlier reached his first Rome final by rallying past Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Djokovic is seeking his sixth title in the Italian capital.

The World No.1 is playing in just his fifth tournament of the year, with his best previous result the final of the Serbia Open last month.

Last week he was beaten by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here holding a cake marking his 1000th career win.
Novak Djokovic holds a cake marking his 1000th career win. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

Against Ruud - the first Norwegian ever to break into the top 10 - Djokovic jumped out to 5-1 in the opening set with an array of shot-making that negated his opponent's power.

On one point early on when Ruud pushed Djokovic wide of the doubles alley, the Serb practically did the splits as he responded with a backhand winner up the line with his racquet just a few inches above the clay.

The second set was as routine as it gets, with Djokovic breaking Ruud in the eighth game and then dispatching his opponent at the first opportunity two games later.

"I thought I played really, really well in the first four and last four games of the match," he said.

"Let's hope I can take that form into tomorrow's final."

Djokovic and Tsitsipas in Italian Open final

Djokovic's most recent match against Tsitsipas came in last year's French Open final, when he rallied from two sets down to take the trophy.

The Serbian star also needed five sets to beat Tsitsipas in the Roland Garros semi-finals two years ago, and they went the full three sets when Djokovic won in the Rome quarter-finals last year.

"He's definitely in form. These last few years he's been one of the top two, three clay court players," Djokovic said of Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas earlier said: "I've looked back to those matches. I've analysed them.

"There are things that didn't work for me after two sets to love up in Roland Garros.

"I guess I was always pretty stubborn, didn't want to change (tactics). ... There's always one more match where I can perhaps maybe do something different."

Tsitsipas defended his title at the Monte Carlo Masters last month and is aiming for another big clay-court title in the lead-up to Roland Garros.

with agencies

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