ROME — It was just the type of scrambling, wear-down-the-opponent mentality and shot-making that took Novak Djokovic to within one match of a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2021.
A spectacle that was missing for so much of this year when Djokovic didn’t play because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The top-ranked Djokovic brought the Foro Italico crowd to its feet with several memorable points in a 7-5, 7-6 (1) win over Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the Italian Open semifinals on Friday.
To conclude a long rally, Djokovic produced a delicate backhand topspin lob winner over the leaping Auger-Aliassime to break serve and lead 4-2 in the second set.
Djokovic celebrated the lob winner by raising both of his arms above his head, then urged the packed crowd on Campo Centrale to cheer louder by gesturing with his hands.
“It was high-level tennis,” Djokovic said. “He did ask me to…