Nole is through to his ninth Italian Open semis!

Four-time former titlist Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 for a spot in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia last four.

In his first quarter-final of the season, Novak had a slow start. He was broken twice, in the first and fifth games, but responded with a double break in the second set to go up 4-0. The Japanese broke back once, but the Serbian 11th seed converted another break point chance in the sixth game and held to force a decider.

Djokovic broke first in the third set, but Nishikori fought back immediately to level. The momentum swung back to Novak, who closed out the thrilling set and match with two more breaks.

“It means a lot to me to be able to play in the semi-finals of a tournament again,” said Djokovic. “This is what I was looking forward to. This is what I was hoping to achieve. Today, the quality of tennis was really high. I mean, Kei was playing fantastic, especially in the first set… and it took me little bit of time to adjust to his pace. I’m really happy that I mentally stayed strong. In the ending of the third set I really fought and showed some resilience. This victory means a lot to me on different levels, mostly mental.”

Match statistics: aces (4-2), double faults (3-2), winners (29-24), unforced errors (34-31), total points won (97-81).

Novak will next play in the semi-final on Saturday (15:00 CET) against top seed Rafael Nadal.

The two have faced each other 50 times with Nole leading 26–24. The Spaniard won their last encounter in Madrid 2017.

Photo: Profimedia

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