Novak Djokovic earns 1,000th career win to reach Italian Open final OCN NEWS

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic claimed his 1,000th round-level victory when he beat Casper Ruud 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to reach the Italian Open final.

Djokovic will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s title match, with the Serb making the final in Rome for the fourth consecutive time and 12th overall.

It will be a repeat of last year’s French Open final, which Djokovic won after fighting back after two sets.

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The 34-year-old is only the fifth man in the Open Era to reach the 1,000 win milestone after Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafa Nadal.

Playing in the spotlight, Djokovic broke Norwegian Ruud’s serve twice to take a 4-0 lead as the top seed got off to a fast start.

Ruud beat Djokovic 5-3 and held his serve, but the 20-time major winner closed the set.

In the second set, Ruud saved three break points in game seven before Djokovic broke for a 4-3 lead.

Djokovic beat Ruud again as he took the win in an hour 42 minutes and the Serb will seek a record 38th ATP Masters 1000 title in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the Rome final for the first time after the Greek rallied to defeat Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Tsitsipas, who will move up to fourth in the ATP rankings next week, will look to clinch his third Masters 1000 title on Sunday.

In the third clay-court Masters 1000 semi-final between the two this season, Tsitsipas defeated Zverev as he remained consistent from the baseline and strong on serve.

“Battle of services,” Tsitsipas said. “Battle of being able to shoot that first shot after serve and really put a lot of pressure on it, which I think I was able to do really well in the third set.

“I was able to send a few on the third a little more than him, put the ball in play, stay in those exchanges, not give much.

“I was really trying to stay out there as long as possible and make everyone count.”

Zverev was clinical in the first set with his first serve working like clockwork, but the German lost a set for the first time in this year’s tournament as Tsitsipas raised his own level in the second.

Tsitsipas struck first in the deciding game, earning a break to lead 3-2 when Zverev sent a forehand into the net.

Tsitsipas again broke Zverev’s serve to claim a comfortable win and he now has a Tour-leading 31 wins this year and leads his head-to-head against Zverev 8-4.

Zverev is yet to win a title this season.

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