Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev is just one win away from his first ATP final this year. The 27-year-old won his quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 tournament in Rome against Taylor Fritz from the USA 6:4, 6:3 despite a slight fall at the beginning of the match.

In the semifinals, Zverev will face outsider Alejandro Tabilo. The 26-year-old Chilean knocked Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic out of the competition in the third round.

For Zverev it is the 18th semi-final appearance in a Masters tournament and the 9th on clay. Only the tennis icons Rafael Nadal (37), Novak Djokovic (28) and Roger Federer (19) have reached more semi-finals on clay in the highest tournament category after the four Grand Slams.

“The night of Alexander Zverev” wasn’t just something the Italian newspaper “Corriere dello Sport” expected. But it began with a moment of shock for the German: When the score was 1:1 and 30:0, Zverev slipped on his return and fell onto the brown sand without throwing away his racket. He obviously hurt his little finger on his left hand and sustained abrasions. “I still have some pain and will have it checked tomorrow to see what it is,” Zverev said immediately after the match.

Zverev continued without losing a set in the tournament

After a medical time-out the game continued and Zverev immediately got the break to make it 2-1. As a result, Zverev did not show any handicap. The Hamburger could once again rely on his serve, and his baseline strokes were also of enormous quality. In the second set he took serve from his opponent to make it 4:3 and with the third break he took victory after an hour and a half. Zverev remained without losing a set in his fourth match in Rome.

Zverev, who won the tournament in 2017, is the best-placed player in the world rankings among all the semi-finalists. The clay court tournament is the last big test of form before the French Open in Paris, which begins in a week and a half, and where Zverev is also one of the extended circle of title candidates.