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An ever finer and finer version of Novak Djokovic beat Felix Auger-Aliassime’s best on clay to retain world number one. The Serbian needed to reach the semifinals at the Masters 1,000 in Rome and he did it with a win by a 7-5 and 7-6 (1) in two hours and nine minutes against the Canadian.

Djokovic will compete in that position at Roland Garros (May 22-June 5), where he defends his title. Before that, he will try to add the sixth of his career at the Foro Italico, for which he will first have to beat Casper Ruud today not before 7:30 p.m. (Sports 1 by Movistar +). The Norwegian got rid of Canadian Denis Shapovalov in two tight sets (7-6 (7) and 7-5 in 2h19). If the Balkan wins, he will reach the figure of 1,000 victories as a professional. A matter of time, however. He would be the fifth player to reach such an amount in the Open Era (since 1968) after Connors, Lendl, Federer and Nadal.

Djokovic starred in one of those victories of his, without fanfare, very mechanical, directing the movement of the ball with his backhand, supported by a service that is working great for him and with the drive ready to attack when he needed it. The first set was won without a real sense of dominance, after saving a break point at 3-2, scoring one to make it 5-3, lose his serve immediately and close the game with another unappealable break.

Trouble closing

In the second, Nole broke in game six and clinched the victory in some rush by a wasted match point and a break down by good defenses and Felix’s serves. But his tennis was even better at times. Proof of this, the point with which she consummated the break, finished off with a lofty balloon. It had never been measured with Auger-Aliassimewho was facing a number one for the first time, and ‘dissected’ him with forensic expertise. The tiebreaker was an exciting culmination, superbly contested by Belgrade, for a remarkable match. Djokovic is shooting towards the final victory, although on the other side of the draw Zverev and Tsitsipas threaten.