Novak Djokovic has reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open.
In doing so, he has assured his 370th week as the world no.1 in the ATP rankings in the process.
His stay at the top came courtesy of a 7-5, 7-6(1) win over Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Serb, after failing to serve out both sets at 5-3, closed out each one in style.
Djokovic’s quarter-final win was not a routine one despite a mid-set break in each.
He and Auger Aliassime both showed off their shotmaking and mobility, drawing each other wide with extreme angles and mixing things up with well-timed drop shots.
The world no 1. finally broke the Canadian’s tenacious resistance with a cross-court forehand winner on set point in the first.
At 3-2 in the second, Djokovic secured his third break of the match with a topspin lob just out the reach of a leaping Auger-Aliassime on his fourth break point of the long return game.
But the 21-year-old did not go down without a fight in both sets.
He broke back in the first set to deny Djokovic’s attempt to serve it out, then created two break points in response to falling behind 2-4 in the second.
After saving a match point on serve, Auger-Aliassime broke in his next return game to extend the contest, but could not match the World No. 1’s level in a one-sided tie-break.
After beating Auger-Aliassim, Djokovic will seek his 1,000th tour-level win when he meets Casper Ruud in the Italian Open semi-finals.
Should he advance to the final, the Belgrade native will chase a record-extending 38th ATP Masters 1000 title Sunday, one week shy of his 35th birthday.
Casper Ruud will look to throw a wrench in those plans.
The Norweigian overcame Denis Shapovalov 7-6(7), 7-5 to reach his first claycourt semi-final this season.
Shapovalov, Nadal’s conqueror, failed to convert two set points as he lost in two hours and 19 minutes.
The 23-year-old Oslo native has risen two places to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings and will return to his career-high No. 7 Monday should he win the title.