Sinner, Djokovic reach Monte Carlo semis

MONACO   -   Italy’s world number two Jannik Sinner beat Holger Rune 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday after his Danish opponent saved two match points. 

Top seed Novak Djokovic also advanced to the semis after a hard-fought 7-5 6-4 win over Australian 11th seed Alex de Minaur. This is the 36-year-old Serb’s first semi-final since 2015, mak­ing him the oldest semi-final­ist in the tournament’s his­tory. Djokovic also surpassed Rafa Nadal to make a record 77 Masters 1000 semi-final appearances. “It was tough for both of us. He’s one of the quickest players on tour. He gets a lot of balls back that 99% of players don’t,” Djokovic said. “He did sur­prise me in several passing shots. “He said at the net that it was ugly, in the second I think we didn’t play really at the high level. Again, win is a win; glad to go through. “I’m very happy to be back in the semis, it’s been a while. I love this tournament... another semis, look forward to it.” Djokovic will next face either Frenchman Ugo Humbert or Norwegian Casper Ruud, who play later on Friday. 

Rune beat Sinner in the semi-finals last year but this time it was the second seed who prevailed as he reached a fifth semi-final in as many tournaments this year. Rune had played two matches on Thursday, first finishing his rain-affected clash with Sumit Nagal before a 3-1/2 hour thriller with Grigor Dimitrov where he saved two match points, with both games going the distance. 

He looked far from fatigued as faced the Australian Open champion in bright sunshine but the 20-year-old also took on the crowd, who jeered and whistled at him while he also argued with the chair umpire over a line call. “Play­ing against him is never easy, especially in such occasions. I’mvery happy I won today, but mostly about my physical level - I raised it today,” Sinner said. “This can happen (Rune taking on the umpire and crowd), there’s nothing wrong with all this. You can make a little bit chaos, but it’s all part of the learning process.” 

Sinner took the first set and looked destined to seal a straight-sets victory at 6-4 in the second set tiebreak, but Rune saved two match points once again -- one with a su­perb cross-court forehand winner -- before levelling the tie. The final set went with serve until 4-3 when Sinner converted the decisive break point after Rune made a cost­ly double-fault and the Italian held his nerve to serve out the contest. Sinner will face 12th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in a rematch of last year’s Australian Open semi-final as the Greek looks to return to form after a mixed record in 2024.

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