ATP Rome: Novak Djokovic edges Lorenzo Sonego to set Rafael Nadal title match

Novak Djokovic is through to his 11th Rome Open final and the 53rd at the Masters 1000 level following a day to remember at Foro Italico. First, the five-time champion prevailed over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final this morning after over three hours before facing the crowd favorite Lorenzo Sonego in the semis. The Italian pushed the Serbi to the limits before the defending champion prevailed 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 in two hours and 44 minutes. Lorenzo saved two match points in the second set’s 12th game and stole the tie break before Novak started all over in the decider to cross the finish line and set the title clash against the nine-time winner Rafael Nadal. Novak won nine points more than Lorenzo in the opening set, producing one good hold after another and forging the advantage with a single break. The Serb had eight winners and four unforced errors, controlling his strokes nicely and leaving the crowd favorite behind in the mid-range and most extended exchanges for 6-3.

The five-time champion made a rock-solid start and fired a service winner for a hold at love and his name on the scoreboard. Sonego earned his first game with a drop shot winner in game two before Djokovic closed the third game with a forehand winner to remain in front. The Serb placed a deep return in game four and grab a break after Sonego’s forehand error, roaring towards his team and feeling good about his performance so far. Novak confirmed the break with a service winner in game five, and Lorenzo secured the sixth game at love to remain within one break deficit. Firing from all cylinders behind the initial shot, Djokovic closed the seventh game in style to open a 5-2 gap and sealed the opener with a forehand down the line winner at 5-3 after 34 minutes. Still standing strong behind the initial shot, Novak gave Sonego nothing on the return in the second set’s opening four games, forcing the Italian to match that level if he wanted to stay in touch.

Novak Djokovic prevailed over Lorenzo Sonego to advance into the final.

From 40-15 in game three, Lorenzo faced a break point and saved it with a service winner before firing another to open a 2-1 gap. Djokovic held at 15 in game four and earned three break chances at 3-3 that could have sent him closer to the finish line. The crowd favorite saved the opening two with smash winners and the third after a crafty drop shot that Djokovic failed to bring over the net. Leaving that game behind him, Novak placed an ace down the T line for a hold at love in game eight, preparing a new assault on Sonego’s serve in the next one. The Italian erased both with powerful forehands and held after three deuces for a 5-4 lead. Serving in game ten, Djokovic repelled two set points and held with a service winner to lock the result at 5-5. Carried by this momentum, Novak painted two incredible running winners at the net that secured a break for him in game 11, forging the advantage and serving for the victory.

From 30-0 down, Novak came back into the game and saved a break point with a service winner before Lorenzo converted the second with a smash winner that secured a tie break for him. Djokovic hit a crafty forehand down the line winner to open a 4-2 gap before hitting a costly double fault. A backhand down the line winner pushed the Italian 5-4 in front, and he forced Novak’s error at the net for two more set points. Lorenzo converted the second with a service winner to win an epic set and force a decider. Carried by this boost, the Italian created three break chances at the beginning of the final set, squandering them all and getting broken at 15 in game four to propel Novak 3-1 ahead. The Serb confirmed the break with a hold at 15 and earned a match point with a forehand winner at 5-2, converting it to move over the top and secure the second challenging victory of the day. 

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