x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Djokovic glory as rain checks Federer surge

Holder Novak Djokovic takes advantage of Roger Federer's slump in form after a rain break to reach the Rome Masters final.

Holder Novak Djokovic took advantage of Roger Federer's slump in form after a rain break to reach the Rome Masters final with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win yesterday. Second-seeded Federer, yet to win a title this year, looked to be cruising when leading 6-4, 2-1 before rain halted play for about an hour. He had a break point to go 3-0 up and then created another for 4-1 before some wild shots helped the third-ranked Serb take the match to a decider.

Djokovic rallied from another break down in the final set to book a meeting with either world No 1 Rafael Nadal or the Chilean 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez - the pair were due to play later last night. Djokovic needs to retain his title or he will lose his world No 3 ranking to Britain's Andy Murray. Federer and Djokovic had met 10 times previously, with Federer holding a 7-3 lead and having won both their matches on clay.

Djokovic has been in far better form recently, however, reaching the final in Monte Carlo and powering through the field in Rome. Federer has not won a tournament since October, with Rome is seen as a key warm-up for this month's French Open. Elsewhere, defending champion Jelena Jankovic was bundled out of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title in Stuttgart by the unseeded challenger Flavia Pennetta.

Jankovic was made to work hard for a three-set victory over Sabine Lisicki in the previous round and was sent tumbling in Friday's quarter-final, with Italy's Pennetta claiming a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over the third seed. The top-seeded Dinara Safina beat eighth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-2. * With agencies