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Novak Djokovic sets another record in Monte Carlo win

Novak Djokovic, right, of Serbia is interviewed by Nick Kyrgios following his win over Taylor Fritz of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo / Asanka Brendon Ratnayake) Novak Djokovic, right, of Serbia is interviewed by Nick Kyrgios following his win over Taylor Fritz of the U.S. in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo / Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
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Novak Djokovic sets another record in Monte Carlo win Top seed Novak Djokovic topped No. 11 seed Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-4 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The win means Djokovic will be playing a record-breaking 77th semifinal in an ATP Masters 1000 event. He and Rafael Nadal had been tied with 76 appearance in the semis.

The Serbian great will be seeking his third win in Monaco but first since 2015, and de Minaur gave him plenty to handle in the two-hour, four-minute victory.

Djokovic had just 12 winners against 18 unforced errors, compared to 17 and 26, respectively, for de Minaur.

"It was tough for both of us. He is one of the quickest players on tour," Djokovic said of his opponent. "He gets a lot of balls back that normally 99 percent of other players don't. He did not surprise me with several passing shots. Particularly in the second set when I was up a break."

Djokovic's play clearly wasn't up to his standards. His serve was broken in three of seven opportunities, and Djokovic broke the Australian five times.

"We didn't play at the high level and made a lot of unforced errors, him and I, and a lot of breaks of serve," Djokovic said. "It is kind of expected on clay but maybe not this many. But a win is a win and I am happy to be through."

Djokovic, 36, is seeking to extend his record to 41 ATP Masters 1000 wins. Trying to stand in his way will be eighth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway, who posted a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over No. 14 Ugo Humbert of France.

"I am very happy to be back in the semis. It has been a while," Djokovic said. "I love this tournament. ... The past seven, eight years has been tough for me to win seven or eight matches consecutively, but here we are, another semis."

The other semifinal is set, with No. 2 Jannik Sinner of Italy facing No. 12 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

Sinner beat Denmark's Holger Rune, the No. 7 seed, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3. Tsitsipas, a two-time winner in Monaco, knocked out Russian Karen Khachanov, the No. 15 seed, 6-4, 6-2.

Sinner will be advancing to his second straight Monte Carlo semifinal, but it wasn't easy. He couldn't cash in on six break chances or two match points in the second set.

"It took a lot," Sinner said of the victory after the match. "Playing against him is never easy, especially on this kind of occasion, so I'm very happy I won today but mostly about the level I gave. I raised it today a little bit. It was more physical, there were more rallies today. My general feelings were better, so I'm very excited about tomorrow's match."

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