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Novak Djokovic reaches Rome final, 1,000-win mark

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Alexandr Dolgopolov, of Ukraine, approaches the net in the second set to return a shot to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, their semifinal match, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.Xxx 082215 Tennis 06 Jpg S Ten Usa Oh
Credit: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic became just the fifth men’s player to win 1,000 matches in the Open Era on Saturday, when he handled fifth-seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud, 6-4, 6-3, in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

Djokovic, who turns 35 next week, joined Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,251), Ivan Lendl (1,068) and Rafael Nadal (1,051) in the 1,000-victory club.

The Serbian will be seeking his 87th ATP singles title Sunday when he faces fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

“Thanks to the tournament and the crowd for celebrating the milestone with me,” Djokovic said in a post-match interview. “I’ve seen Roger and Rafa celebrate those milestones in the last couple of years and I was looking forward to get to that 1,000 myself. I’m really, really blessed and privileged to have that many victories on the Tour. It’s been a long time, ever since I won my first match on the Tour. Hopefully I can keep going and many more victories to come.”

Tsitsipas defeated second-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours, 28 minutes on Saturday in the third semifinal meeting between the duo in the past month.

“He wasn’t giving me much, he made me work hard for every single point,” Tsitsipas said after pushing his career record against Zverev to 8-4. “I’m extremely proud of the way things turned around, and I was able to read the gameplay a little bit better and understand what was working at that time.”

Tsitsipas, ranked fifth in the world entering the tournament, beat Zverev in straight sets in April in the semifinals on his way to winning the Monte Carlo Masters, and then the German reversed the result last week in Madrid.

Tsitsipas leads the tour with 31 match victories in 2022.

Djokovic has already ensured that he will retain the No. 1 world ranking for the 370th overall week of his career.

“I thought I played very well,” Djokovic said. “Started fantastic, 4-0. Then I did slow down a bit. I did drop my level and I wasn’t feeling that great on the court for about 15, 20 minutes. He used that, managed to get himself back in the first set. It was important to close it out in the 10th game, clinch the first set.”

–Field Level Media