Top-ranked Novak Djokovic edged Roger Federer on Saturday to set up another meeting with rival Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open final.
The defending champion at the Foro Italico, Djokovic beat Federer 6-2, 7-6 (4). Five-time winner Nadal eliminated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 (6), 6-0 in the other semifinal.
Djokovic beat Nadal in last year's final, and also defeated the Spaniard in an epic Australian Open final in January, which at 5 hours, 53 minutes was the longest Grand Slam championship match ever. Nadal easily won their last meeting in the Monte Carlo final last month when Djokovic was mourning the death of his grandfather.
Against Federer, Djokovic was cruising until he served for the match at 5-4 in the second. Federer saved a match point with a blazing inside-out forehand crosscourt winner, then converted his first break point of the match to draw level.
However, even with the sell-out crowd of 10,500 doing their best to encourage Federer, the 16-time Grand Slam winner made a series of costly groundstroke errors in the tiebreaker to hand Djokovic the win.
In all, Federer committed more than twice as many unforced errors as Djokovic, 42-20.