Djokovic comeback stuns Federer in Rome

ROME: Novak Djokovic made the most of a rain break to transform his play and beat Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a thriller to reach the final of the ATP Rome Masters.

The World No 3 and reigning champion was trailing by a set and a break when the heavens opened to give him some much needed respite. After a little more than an hour off court, Djokovic came back rejuvenated while Federer’s game slowly crumbled.

Djokovic was regularly forced to save break points and at 4-4 Federer finally managed to break serve at the sixth attempt in the set. Federer served out the set and then broke in the opening game of the second.

Federer had a chance for a double break and a 4-1 lead but after Djokovic saved that and held, the winds changed completely. The Serbian broke back when Federer sent a backhand slice drifting over the baseline and he broke again for a 5-3 lead. Djokovic served out the set to love.

However, Federer regrouped and drew first blood in the decider when he broke for a 3-1 lead. But Federer then made three unforced errors to give the Serbian a 40-0 lead and a crosscourt forehand winner secured a break back. After that Federer’s game simply crumbled, particularly his backhand. The Serbian will play either World No 1 Rafael Nadal or 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez.

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STUTTGART: Russia’s Dinara Safina has cemented her World No 1 ranking at Stuttgart’s WTA tournament this week by reaching semi-finals without dropping a set on the way. The 23-year-old made light work of Friday’s quarter-final against eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska with a 6-4, 6-2 win en route to semi-final where she faces Italy’s Flavia Pennetta.

Defending champion Jelena Jankovic suffered a quarter-final upset as Pennetta ignored a lack of sleep to snatch a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Having only nodded off at 3am on Friday morning after her game against Nadia Petrova finished just before midnight, Pennetta rallied to dump out Jankovic. Russia’s Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova will face each other in the other semi-final. While Dementieva struggled to see off France’s Marion Bartoli 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in her quarter-final, Kuznetsova took just over an hour to beat Argentina’s Gisela Dulko 6-3, 6-2 and will now play her compatriot for a place in Sunday’s final.