Djokovic advances to Rome final after tough test

 

The Sports Network

Rome, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - It took three hours, but Novak Djokovic reached his fifth Italian Open final.

The second-seeded Djokovic overcame a dropped first set to beat the hard- serving Milos Raonic 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 in the first of Saturday's two semifinals on the red clay at Foro Italico.

Djokovic will be seeking his third title at this ATP Masters 1000 event. He won in 2008 and 2011 and was the runner-up in 2009 and 2012.

The eighth-seeded Raonic tested Djokovic's serve early, earning two break points before the Serbian battled back to take the second game of the match.

A forehand error gave Djokovic double break point, but Raonic fired three consecutive aces to set up game point and held at 3-2 when Djokovic netted a backhand.

Djokovic fought off a set point in the 10th game and forced a tiebreak with a love service game. Down 3-0 in the tiebreak, Raonic won six straight points and secured the opening set when Djokovic fired a return long.

Raonic missed three chances to break early in the second set and a long backhand from the Canadian gave Djokovic the first break of the match and a 3-1 edge.

Djokovic, however, was broken in the next game and Raonic held to level the set at 3-3.

The second set remained on serve until the tiebreak, which Djokovic clinched on a Raonic backhand error.

Raonic saved one match point with the last of his 17 aces, but he netted a forehand to be broken a third time.

Djokovic will face seven-time champion Rafael Nadal or Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday's final.

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