Novak Djokovic survives scare at Italian Open to see off qualifier Dominik Koepfer

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Novak Djokovic forehand

Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the Italian Open but recovered to beat qualifier Dominik Koepfer and reach the semi-finals in Rome.

The omens were certainly not good for German Koepfer when he lost the first four games of the match, but he responded by breaking Djokovic twice in a row to serve notice that this might not be a straightforward afternoon for the world number one.

Djokovic moved 3-1 ahead in the second set but smashed his racket to the court after dropping serve in the next game.

Koepfer capitalised to level the match but Djokovic kept his cool and eventually came through 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to set up a clash with Norwegian Casper Ruud.

It will be Djokovic’s 69th semi-final at Masters level and 11th in Rome alone, but this is new territory for Ruud.

The 21-year-old became the first Norwegian player to make the semi-finals at this level with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Italian No 1 Matteo Berrettini.

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