Tennis: Zverev sets up semi-final clash with Tsitsipas in Rome

Zverev reacts after winning his quarter final match against Cristian Garin of Chile. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ROME (REUTERS) - World number three Alexander Zverev remained on course to claim his first title of the season after overcoming Cristian Garin at the Italian Open on Friday (May 13) to set up a semi-final showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who saw off home favourite Jannik Sinner.

Zverev, who won the title in Rome in 2017, eased into the last four with a 7-5 6-2 win over Garin in the pair's first meeting since the Chilean upset him on home soil en route to winning the ATP 250 event in Munich three years ago.

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 and, after some poor shot selection, closed out a gritty opening set.

Zverev comfortably won the second set after Garin dropped serve in his first game, converting two out of his seven break points to wrap up the 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 number five kept his composure in front of a raucous crowd to hold off Sinner for a 7-6(5) 6-2 victory.

In an entertaining opening lasting nearly an hour and a half, Tsitsipas raced to a 3-0 lead and Sinner battled back to draw level before the Greek edged it on the tiebreak.

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 before 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."

Norwegian fifth seed Casper Ruud 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 number one Novak Djokovic or Canadian eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in the final.

Norway's Casper Ruud celebrates winning his quarter final match against Canada's Denis Shapovalov. PHOTO: REUTERS

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.