Just yesterday, Novak Djokovic against Lorenzo Sonego seemed the most unlikely line up for the top half semfinal of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2021, but the two went against the odds to win their matches and will no play for a spot in tomorrow’s final.
It would feel awkward to give world number 1 Novak Djokovic the underdog role in a match, but when play was stopped yesterday due to rain, he was trailing 6-4 2-1 to Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek resumed on serve today, but it was clear from the beginning that ‘Nole’ was not give him the victory without a fight.
Djokovic limited the errors and started putting more pressure on his opponent, who was forced to go for more and more risky shots and obviously produced more errors. The Serb showed why he is the world’s best player at the moment by playing his absolute best tennis on the important points, especially each time he had to save crucial break points. Djokovic turned the match around and took the second set 7-5.
Tsitsipas did not let the missed chances of the second set play with his mind and he started the third set as well as it could be. He quickly took the lead and on 3-1 to his favour, he even had multiple break points, but the reigning champion saved them all with extraordinary solutions, including two drop shots and one perfect serve and volley.
Djokovic held and then broke back, but it was Tsitsipas to once again to change the momentum and went serving for the semifinal on 5-4. Every point was worth a battle and the two fought as if it was a final, but the experience of the Serb gave him the edge: he broke back without letting the Greek get to match point, saved one break point in the next game and finally closed 4-6 7-5 7-5.
His opponent at 6.30pm tonight will be Lorenzo Sonego, who thrived on the public support to produce another extraordinary match and oust world number 7 Andrey Rublev 3-6 6-4 6-3. In a little more than two and a half hours, the Italian showed that his performance from two evenings ago, when he upset Dominic Thiem, was no flash in the pan. By serving well and moving his opponent with accurate counterattacks, Sonego capitalized on Rublev’s troubles on the forehand side, but also produced a number of astonishing winners and offsetting dropshots.
With this result, Sonego has become the first Italian to reach the last 4 at the Foro Italico since Filippo Volandri in 2007.
“I would have never dreamt of a day like this. I only started to play when I was 11 and now I ma in the semis of my favourite tournament in the world”, said the Italian: “it is an incredibly emotional moment and I am sure it will be a great match with Djokovic. The public gave me the extra push to get on top of Rublev, who’s a fantastic player. I hope I can get the same vibe during the semifinal, but I mostly want to enjoy it”.