Novak Djokovic guarantees another week at number one by reaching 13th Rome semi-final
Novak Djokovic has ensured he will be world number one for at least another week after claiming his 999th career tour level win.
In a first meeting with world number nine Felix Auger-Aliassime the five-time Italian Open champion raised his game to stop the Canadian youngster and win 7-5, 7-6 (7-1).
Had he lost, Djokovic would have been replaced atop the ATP ladder by Daniil Medvedev at the next rankings update on Monday.
The top seed admitted he could have seen off the 21-year-old sooner, saying: “I thought I could have finished the job earlier.
“I was up a set, 5-2, match point serving for the match.
“But credit to him for fighting back, amazing atmosphere as well tonight.”
The 34-year-old now faces Caper Ruud for a place in the final in a repeat of their 2020 Rome semi-final.
When asked if the Eternal City would be a fitting venue for his 1,000th career victory, Djokovic said: “Yes absolutely!
“So hopefully it can happen [in the semi-finals].”
While Djokovic has ensured he will be number one for at least another week, there is a possibility that Medvedev will usurp the Serb after that.
If Djokovic loses to Ruud in Rome and Medvedev wins the Geneva Open on his tour return next week he would overtake Djokovic to top the field once more.
On the other hand, if Djokovic reaches the final in Rome, he will remain in first until at least the end of Roland Garros, so three more weeks.
The winner between Djokovic and Ruud will take on either 2017 Rome Masters champion Alexander Zverev or Monte Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
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