EFERome

Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic struggled to put away Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime on Friday at the Italian Open but eventually secured a 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) victory to book his place in the semifinals.

The ninth-ranked Auger-Aliassime put up a valiant fight, hanging close with the 20-time Grand Slam champion thanks to a potent first serve (11 aces for the contest and many other unreturnable serves) and to the service breaks he secured in the latter portions of both sets.

Djokovic notched the first break of serve of the match in the eighth game when the Canadian sent a forehand well over the baseline.

But the Serbian stumbled when serving at 5-3 and allowed his opponent to return the favor when he sent an errant backhand wide of the sideline.

The set appeared to be headed for a tiebreaker, but the world No. 1 seized control with his baseline game to break Auger-Aliassime a second time, wrapping up the set with a sharply angled forehand crosscourt winner.

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