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Tsitsipas sees off Sinner to reach Rome semis after match point drama

Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Alexander Zverev in the Rome semi-finals after beating Jannick Sinner. ©AFP

Rome (AFP) - Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open on Friday after beating local hero Jannick Sinner 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 in a clash which was stopped for over 10 minutes at match point after a spectator fell ill.

World number five Tsitsipas has already won the Monte Carlo Masters this clay swing and reached the last four in impressive style against Italian Sinner, who was in his first ever Rome quarter-final.

Next up Tsitsipas will face Alexander Zverev, who made the semis after comfortably seeing off Cristian Garin, the only unseeded player left in the tournament, 7-5, 6-2.

It will be the third time in the space of a month that the German will meet the Greek in the last four, with the pair sharing the honours from clashes in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

"He's one of the most difficult players to play against on the tour.I have a lot of respect for him as he's achieved a lot in our sport," said Tsitsipas of Zverev.

Sinner fired up an enthusiastic centre court crowd on a hot day in the Italian capital after battling back from three games down to level the first set at 3-3, and from there the pair bumped heads.

The first set lasted nearly an hour and a half as both players shared the serve and Sinner landed a series of delicate drop shots which confounded Tsitsipas.

However Tsitsipas finally took the opening set after breaking Sinner to take the tie-break to 6-5 and from there his opponent didn't recover.

The fervent atmosphere was finally dampened when Tsitsipas broke serve in game three and world number 13 Sinner had no reply, losing his serve again to love in game seven.

Sinner's fate seemed sealed but at the second match point for Tsitsipas someone in the crowd appeared to collapse and play was stopped amid loud whistles directed at the umpire who wanted to continue.

What seemed like an age passed before the spectator was stretchered out of centre court and Tsitsipas could finally serve his match point, and a simple passing shot from Sinner's miscalculated drop shot sent him through.

"I've had these situations in the past.The important thing is to stay within your element," Tsitsipas added. 

"It could have been something that dropped my rhythm but I didn't want it to get in my head." 

Swiatek continues hot streak

Tsitsipas will take number four spot in the world rankings on Monday after Rafael Nadal's shock third-round exit at the hands of Denis Shapovalov on Thursday night.

Shapovalov faces Casper Ruud knowing a win would give him a possible semi-final against Novak Djokovic, who is in action in the day's final match against Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Djkokovic needs to beat Auger-Aliassime to maintain top spot in the world rankings, a position he has held for a record 369 weeks.

Iga Swiatek stretched her winning streak to 26 matches after a straight-sets victory over Bianca Andreescu, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.

Swiatek, the reigning champion in Rome, is gunning for a fifth tournament victory in a row and showed why she is the favourite for the French Open later this month with a routine win against Canadian Andreescu.

The world number one will face Aryna Sabalenka in the women's semi-finals after the third seed beat Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Belarus' Sabalenka beat Anisimova for the first time in five attempts after the American had ended her Madrid title defence in the first round at the end of last month.