World No.3 Alexander Zverev has remained on course to win his first title of the season by beating Cristian Garin at the Italian Open to set up a semi-final with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Zverev, who won the title in Rome in 2017, eased into the last four with a 7-5 6-2 win. It was their first meeting since Garin upset him on home soil en route to winning the ATP 250 event in Munich three years ago.
Tsitsipas saw off home favourite Jannik Sinner 7-6(5) 6-2.
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Garin, the only unseeded player remaining, had the first break point of the match at 3-2 but Zverev squirmed his way out of it and broke his 25-year-old opponent to take a 4-3 lead. After some poor shot selection, he closed out a gritty opening set.
Zverev won the second set comfortably after Garin dropped serve in his first game, converting two out of seven break points to wrap up victory.
“I think it was a high level match. At times it wasn’t pretty tennis but I got the job done and that’s the most important thing,” said Zverev, who is yet to drop a set in Rome.
The 25-year-old German will face Tsitsipas in the semi-finals of an ATP tournament for the third time in the space of a month, after the world No.5 kept his composure in front of a raucous crowd to beat Sinner.
In an entertaining opening set, lasting nearly an hour and a half, Tsitsipas raced to a 3-0 lead. Sinner battled back to draw level before the Greek edged it on a tiebreaker.
Tsitsipas cruised through the second set and, after a stoppage in play at match point when a spectator fell ill, dealt with Sinner’s miscalculated drop shot to triumph.
The 23-year-old beat Zverev in Monte Carlo before clinching the title in April, but the German avenged his defeat in Madrid last week.
“He’s a player that challenges me when I’m out on the court,” Tsitsipas said of Zverev. “He has a lot of experience on the tour, much earlier than when I started playing here.
“We have similar game styles but he is one of the most difficult players on the tour. I have a lot of respect for him. He has achieved a lot so far and I try and look up to him.”
Norway’s Casper Ruud, the No.5 seed, continued his good form on European clay as he saved two set points against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov for a hard-fought 7-6(7) 7-5 win.
Ruud plays either world No.1 Novak Djokovic or Canadian eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in the final.