Novak Djokovic will face Milos Raonic in the semi-finals of the Italian Open in Rome on Saturday, after both players progressed through quarter-final matches against David Ferrer and Jeremy Chardy respectively.
It will be just the second time the Serbian and the Canadian have come up against each other on the ATP tour, with their only previous meeting being won by Djokovic when their countries played each other in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup in 2013.
Djokovic reached his fifth semi-final at the Foro Italico, as he came through a difficult match against Spaniard Ferrer to win 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 32 minutes.
The world number two held the early advantage in the first set, though he failed to serve it out at 5-3 as Ferrer broke back, but a break of serve in the 12th game allowed him to finally take the one set advantage.
A break of serve in the seventh game of the second set gave Ferrer a route back into the match, as he duly served it out to take it to a deciding set.
Djokovic, who has won the ATP Masters Series event twice before in 2008 and 2011, continued to make things difficult for himself, as he surrendered an early break advantage before forcing another break in the eighth game, and he doubled faulted his first match point, before converting the second.
The 26-year-old is now won win away from making it into the final at the clay court tournament for the fifth time, and the eighth seeded Raonic stands in his way.
Raonic advanced to his second Masters Series semi-final by beating Chardy 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, and he is now two wins away from winning his first singles title on clay.
The 23-year-old had his serve broken for the first time in the tournament in the second set, and his opponent would have come into the match with confidence after knocking out fourth seed Roger Federer in the previous round.
But two breaks of serve in the final set were enough to ensure victory for Raonic, and he remains unbeaten against Chardy in five matches.
Raonic is renowned for his serving ability, and he fired down 14 aces and won 87% of points on his first serve on his way to victory.
He is aiming to make it to his second Masters Series final, after being beaten by Rafael Nadal in the final in Montreal in 2013.
The match is scheduled to be the first men’s match on Court Centrale.
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