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Young Guns Raonic, Dimitrov Into Rome Semis

Rome, Italy

Raonic© AFP/Getty ImagesMilos Raonic is into his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final.

Two of the ATP World Tour’s most promising young guns reached the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Friday in Rome. 

Milos Raonic advanced to his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final as he steadied himself to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. The 23-year-old Raonic reached his first Masters 1000 final on home soil last year when he finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in Montreal. The right-hander is looking to win his first clay-court title this week and goes on to face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Raonic was broken for the first time in the tournament as he surrendered a break advantage in the second set, sparking a fightback for Chardy, who recorded the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in the second round. 

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Raonic responded strongly, though, breaking the Frenchman twice in the final set to claim victory in just over two hours, improving to a 5-0 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The Canadian fired 14 aces and won 87 per cent of his first serve points.

"I'm happy with a lot of things I did, especially getting myself back on track and playing a good third set. That was very important for me, being able to finish the way I did,” Raonic told Sky Sports on court.

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"I don't think clay will be my best surface, but I think it can come close. I like having the time. I've just got to not doubt my game plan in tough moments, like at the end of the second set where I got a little bit too defensive. I've got to keep my foot on the pedal, play aggressive and try to dictate as much as I can. I think the clay can be good for me.”

Grigor Dimitrov made it a very happy 23rd birthday as he reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final. In a clash between the youngest and oldest players in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, Dimitrov had won the first set 6-2 against Tommy Haas when the 36-year-old German was forced to retire with a right shoulder injury.

"It was one of the most memorable days of my life," said Dimitrov. "I was just talking to my team, it's my first win on my birthday, so it feels good. It's a bit unfortunate, the way it ended up. But I'm just a happy birthday boy today.

World No. 14 Dimitrov could reach another milestone this week by breaking into the Top 10 for the first time. The right-hander must win the title at the Foro Italico and hope that Raonic doesn’t reach the final to break into the game’s elite. In Saturday’s semi-finals he will face either World No. 1 Nadal or Andy Murray

"I'm happy, but I don't want to stop my progress here [in the semi-finals]," said Dimitrov. "I've come to the tournament with good health and good confidence. It's a nice way to bounce back from last week, that was the most positive thing for me. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's match."

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