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Djokovic Wins Gruelling Contest

Rome, Italy

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is looking to reach his fifth final at the Foro Italico.

Novak Djokovic prevailed in a gruelling battle with David Ferrer Friday in Rome, reaching the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the Spaniard.

"It was the most physical match I had on clay this year," said Djokovic. "I am really glad to overcome this challenge because David is a great competitor. I respect him a lot. We all know how good his record is on clay - the best after Nadal. Knowing that I am going to work for every single point of the match, coming out as a winner gives me a lot of satisfaction and confidence."

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World No. 2 Djokovic will attempt to reach the final at the Foro Italico for the fifth time when he takes on Milos Raonic in Saturday’s semi-finals. The Serb won his one previous contest with Raonic, on clay in Davis Cup action last year.

The 26-year-old Djokovic edged Ferrer in two hours and 32 minutes, improving to a 12-6 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The Serb was broken as he served for the first set at 5-3, but broke Ferrer again in the 12th game to clinch the opener.

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Ferrer fought back in the second set, breaking Djokovic in the seventh game as he went on to level the match. The Spaniard hung tough in the third set, pegging Djokovic back after he broke for a 3-1 lead. However, Djokovic managed to find one more gear to get another break in the eighth game and closed out the victory on his second match point, having double faulted on his first.

Djokovic is through to his 41st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final. The Belgrade native has been victorious at the Foro Italico twice before, lifting the trophy in 2008 (d. Wawrinka) and 2011 (d. Nadal). This week, he is bidding to win his 19th Masters 1000 crown, adding to victories this season at Indian Wells (d. Federer) and Miami (d. Nadal).

"It was a close match with really good rallies," said Ferrer. "I had my chance in the third set, with 15/30, and I missed a ball with my backhand. Nole played better in the important moments and didn’t [make] mistakes."

Ferrer, a semi-finalist last week in Madrid, will now head home to Valencia before flying to Paris next Thursday for Roland Garros, where is the returning finalist. "I am playing my best tennis of the [clay-court] season," he said. "I am confident with my game and it was a good tennis week." 

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