World No. 2 Novak Djokovic settled an old score with a childhood rival when he beat Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic 6-3, 6-2 on Friday to reach the Serbia Open semi-finals.
The 23-year old Serb, who will meet compatriot and close friend Janko Tipsarevic for a berth in the final, showed some nerves in the second set, before he stretched his unbeaten run this year to 26 matches.
Djokovic was 4-1 up and facing a break point when the umpire ordered play to continue despite heavy rain. The home favorite sat down and waited for the slippery lines to be mopped up, before he dropped his serve, but it was only a temporary blip as the winner of this year’s Australian Open, Dubai Championships and Master series events in Miami and Indian Wells regained his composure to seal the match in 1 hour, 25 minutes.
“I remember very well losing to Kavcic 10 years ago in an under-14 tournament, I haven’t forgotten the result either and I had a score to settle here today,” Djokovic said with a wry smile. “We grew up together and I really wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Djokovic looked sharp in the opening set and won 14 of 16 points on his first serve, getting the crowd on their feet with a reflex volley and some delightful backhand winners.
He fired in 18 winners throughout the one-sided contest and appeared to leave a lot in the tank for the showdown with Tipsarevic, who beat India’s Somdev Devvarman 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in a rip-roaring contest that lasted 2 hours, 38 minutes.
Djokovic won both their previous encounters, but Tipsarevic said he was looking forward to facing his Davis Cup teammate, who steered Serbia to their first title in the competition when they edged France 3-2 in the Belgrade Arena in December.
“It will be a good test of my credentials and it will show where I stand at the moment, as playing against the world’s best is the only barometer of one’s quality,” Tipsarevic said.
Italy’s Filippo Volandri brushed aside Marcel Granollers 6-2, 6-4 to set up a last-four meeting with Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, who beat his compatriot Albert Montanes 6-4, 6-4.
AFP, ESTORIL, Portugal
Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro came from 4-1 down in the second set to beat top seed Robin Soderling 6-4, 7-5 on Friday in the quarter-finals of the Estoril Open.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion who missed most of last year after wrist surgery, will play fellow South American Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, who put out Brazilian sixth seed Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-2.
Del Potro led 6-4, but trailed in the second when heavy rain arrived to interrupt afternoon play as he faced the Swede whom he had never played on clay. After the storms passed, del Potro — who saved five of six break points and served six aces — came back out in fading light and broke Soderling twice to win after just under two hours of play.
On the women’s side, unseeded duo Kristina Barrois and Anabel Medina Garrigues will meet in the final.
The 29-year-old Barrois flew the flag for Germany when she reached the second final of her career, defeating Sweden’s Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
Barrois will aim to win her first title against Spain’s Medina Garrigues, who beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1, 6-3.
The German, ranked 71st, broke her Swedish opponent six times in a contest lasting 1 hour, 49 minutes.