Paris: Novak Djokovic fended off a moving retaliation from Italy’s Matteo Berrettini to clinch a 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5) 7-5 win on Wednesday to set up a tantalizing semi-final showdown with defending champion Rafa Nadal.
Seeded Djokovic had a big scare against Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti on Monday, losing the first two sets but appeared to be heading for a clear victory after taking a two sets lead against Berrettini.
Djokovic broke serve for a 3-1 lead in the first set and after Berrettini failed to convert a break point as he trailed 4-2, the Serbian sealed the first set routinely.
A clinical Djokovic got through the second set but Berrettini sank his heels throughout the third set failing to fashion a breaking point.
As the crowd in the first night session allowed to get behind the 25-year-old, Berrettini extended Djokovic in a tie-break and pelted a few aces and a few poisonous forehands.
Djokovic had the game on his racket at 5-4, however, but a few unusual mistakes gave Berrettini a set point which he converted with another heavy forehand.
Suddenly, a energized Berrettini looked dangerous, but the drama was cut short as 5,000 fans were ordered to leave in accordance with the 11 p.m. COVID-19 curfew requirements in Paris when Djokovic was leading 3-2 at the service in the fourth set.
After a 25-minute delay, during which the players left Court Philippe Chatrier, the battle resumed in silence and despite a heavy fall that grazed his hand, Djokovic felt his moment when Berrettini served at 5- 6.
Djokovic expressed his anger as Berrettini saved a second match point with a brutal forehand and he then produced a series of deafening roars aimed at his entourage after scoring the victory on the third request.