GENEVA: Novak Djokovic on Thursday booked his spot in the Geneva Open tennis tournament semifinals, putting the world No. 1 within two matches of his first trophy of 2024, days before his French Open title defense begins.

Djokovic saw off a first set challenge from Tallon Griekspoor to win 7-5, 6-1 in 77 minutes at the Parc des Eaux-Vives.

Griekspoor, the world No. 27, was the sixth seed at the 28-man Geneva tournament, which serves as a warm-up before next week’s second Grand Slam of the season in Paris.

The Dutchman had three set points against Djokovic in the first set.

“It was a great win. I thought the first set could have gone his way easily because I think he was a better player for most of the first set,” Djokovic said afterwards.

“We could have been having a completely different direction of the match if he converted those set points.

“I was lucky to find some really good serves, and from that moment onwards I really, really played some good, solid tennis.”

It was a bridge too far for Griekspoor, who earlier Thursday finished off his second-round match with Denis Shapovalov, beating the Canadian 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

The match had been called off for the night in the second set on Wednesday due to rain.

Djokovic, who turned 37 on Wednesday, took a wild card to play in Geneva in a bid to rescue an alarming dip in form ahead of Roland-Garros next week.

Djokovic will face Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic in Friday’s semifinals.

The pair have only met once before, with Djokovic winning their contest in Dubai last year.

Machac, the world No. 44, will be appearing in his first semifinal on the ATP tour.

He saw off 19-year-old Alex Michelsen of the United States 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) in their quarter-final on the Geneva clay.

Friday’s second semifinal will see Norwegian second seed Casper Ruud face Italy’s in-form Flavio Cobolli.

Ruud, the world number seven, was the runner-up in the last two French Open finals, including a defeat to Djokovic last year.

Ruud, at home on the Geneva clay having won the title in 2021 and 2022, beat Argentinian fifth seed Sebastian Baez in a roller-coaster match, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in a two-hour quarterfinal on Thursday.

“It was a tough match against Sebastian. He’s a great player, a great fighter and it was always going to be difficult against him,” Ruud said.

“It was a very close match in the end, back and forth, back and forth. But I’m very happy to be through, back in the semifinals here in Geneva, it’s a great feeling.”

Italian Cobolli, on a career-high ranking of 56, saw off Kazakhstan’s Alexander Shevchenko 6-4, 6-4 in the last eight, having knocked out US fourth seed Ben Shelton in the second round.

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