Novak Djokovic’s recent anger issues have returned at the Italian Open, with the World No.1 destroying a racquet during a temper tantrum against Dominik Koepfer.
The top men’s seed came through the quarter-final clash with a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win to seal his place in the final four of the clay tournament.
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Djokovic needed more than two hours to see off the 97th-ranked German, before advancing in what is the last warm-up tournament on clay before the French Open.
The Serb’s victory did not come without incident, however, as his temper got the better of him at one stage in the match and his racquet felt the full force of that anger.
The 33-year-old’s behaviour on court has been closely scrutinised after his now infamous US Open disqualification, for hitting a tennis ball into the throat of a line judge.
Again in Rome, the World No.1 let his emotions get the better of him as he threw his racquet in disgust after losing a service game, before shouting out in anger.
"Well, let me tell you that it's not the first nor the last racquet that I'll break in my career. I have done it before," he warned.
"I'll probably do it again. I don't want to do it, but when it comes, it happens.
"That's how I guess I release sometimes my anger.
"And it's definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me."
"I don't encourage that, definitely. But, look, we're all people.
"We all do our best. There were times and periods when I don't do that, and there are sometimes periods when I do.
"It's unpredictable really in life what can happen. I am working on my mental and emotional health as much as I'm working on my physical health.
"It's always been part of my, I guess, training and recovery, as well, developing strong character and understanding myself on different levels, the holistic approach to life.
"That's just me, and of course I'm not perfect. I'm doing my best."
World No.1 on track for another Rome final
Djokovic was broken four times before advancing to his 11th semi-final in Rome, where he has reached the final nine times and won four titles.
"Credit to (Dominik) for fighting back, but I have myself to blame for putting myself in a position to play a third set," said Djokovic.
"I was a set and a break up and everything was looking great. I just wasn't managing to make that final shot, that final step to win in straights.”
The 33-year-old next plays Norway's Casper Ruud who also needed to fight to get past Italian fourth seed Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
"Clay is definitely Casper's preferred surface," said Djokovic of his first meeting with the 34th-ranked Norwegian.
"This is where he feels most comfortable. It's semi-finals and it is anybody’s game. I'll do some homework and be ready for that one."
Ruud - son of former tennis player Christian Ruud - becomes the first Norwegian to reach the last four of a Masters tournament.
Ruud, 21, was relishing "a great opportunity for me to play against one of the big three".
Berrettini's elimination ended home hopes in the tournament which will be open to 1,000 spectators from Sunday's semi-finals.