Tabilo into Rome Open semis as Collins sets up Sabalenka clash

Chile's Tabilo will play his first-ever Masters 1000 semi-final at the age of 26

By AFP

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Chile's Alejandro Tabilo celebrates winning his quarterfinal match against China's Zhang Zhizhen. — Reuters
Chile's Alejandro Tabilo celebrates winning his quarterfinal match against China's Zhang Zhizhen. — Reuters

Published: Thu 16 May 2024, 12:19 AM

Alejandro Tabilo hailed the best tennis of his career on Wednesday after his fairytale run at the Rome Open continued to the semifinals while Danielle Collins set up a women's last-four showdown with Aryna Sabalenka.

Chile's Tabilo will play his first-ever Masters 1000 semi-final at the age of 26, after seeing off unseeded Zhang Zhizhen of China 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 26 minutes on centre court at the Foro Italico.


Tabilo knocked out six-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday and in the last four the 29th seed will face either world number five Alexander Zverev or Taylor Fritz who play the day's final match.

"I just can't believe it right now, still trying to soak this in... Definitely an unforgettable two weeks for me," said a delighted Tabilo.


"It's definitely the best tennis of my life right now, trying to keep a poker face there because inside I'm just so nervous, every time trying to close out the match gets a little bit tighter."

Tabilo, in fact, had far less trouble on Wednesday than he did in his battle with Karen Khachanov in the previous round, not facing a single break point on his way to the biggest match of his career at the last major tournament before the French Open.

Zverev, who won the Rome title in 2017, is the highest ranked man left in the event after Daniil Medvedev's elimination on Tuesday.

As well as Djokovic's exit, Italian world number two Jannik Sinner and third-ranked Carlos Alcaraz both dropped out injured before the tournament.

Holger Rune, who lost last year's final to Medvedev, Madrid champion Andrey Rublev -- ranked sixth in the world -- and beaten finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime have also been eliminated.

Women's second seed Sabalenka needed just an hour and 13 minutes to see off Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 on her way to the semis, improving her record against her Latvian opponent to three wins and no defeats.

Sabalenka will next take on Miami Open winner Collins who eased past Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3.

"With this amazing atmosphere and with this amazing support... that's why I'm super motivated here and that's why I always say that this is the dream tournament for me to win," said Sabalenka.

"I really enjoy playing here so I don't have to think about being focused... I'm just here enjoying it and doing everything I can to win every point I play no matter what the score. I guess that's the key."

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