Novak Djokovic’s reign as world No. 1 remained unblemished as the Serb blasted Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-1 off the court to ease into the semi-finals of the ATP Rogers Cup in Montreal on Friday.
Djokovic’s win extended his season record to a spectacular 51-1 and leaves him on course to become the first to win a title on debut as the world’s top-ranked player since Pete Sampras in 1993.
It has also set the scene for an intriguing showdown with another Frenchman in Jo Wilfried Tsonga, who earlier delighted the center court crowd with his 6-4, 6-4 win over eighth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
“I have played the best match of the tournament, no doubt,” Djokovic, who has not dropped a set at the event, told reporters. “I played really, really fast and tried to constantly put pressure on Gael because I didn’t want to give him any time to get back to the match or to think about what he’s going to play. Overall performance was fantastic.”
The other semi-final will see American Mardy Fish take on Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic.
Fish finished strongly to beat Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-0, while Tipsarevic booked his spot with an upset win over seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.
Djokovic came into his meeting boasting a 6-0 record over Monfils and quickly gained the upper hand. He broke the wiry Frenchman to lead 4-2 and finished off the set with another break before surging to 5-0 in the second.
“He was certainly the best Novak I ever met,” said Monfils, who was dispatched in a tidy 73 minutes. “Today he was too strong. I played well, I hit the ball hard, but I never had any solution to finish off a point. I was hitting beautiful rallies, but at the end of those long rallies, he was always hitting the winner.”
The powerfully built Tsonga, who has been in superb form and upset two-time champion Roger Federer in the third round, was never threatened by Almagro and celebrated his victory over the frustrated Spaniard with a leaping pirouette.
Fish, who had failed to win a match in two previous appearances in Montreal, had a tougher ride and was far from dominant in an error-strewn match that failed to produce the best in either player.
Fish broke Wawrinka three times to grab the opening set, but neither could player land their serve in an ugly second set featuring eight service breaks — four by each player.
Wawrinka battled to forced the match to a decider after taking the tiebreak 10-8, but promptly fell flat as Fish steamrolled his way to the win.
“The second set was very strange for both of us,” Fish said. “We couldn’t hold serve to save our lives, but we returned really well ... There’s the positive, I guess.”
A battle-tested Serena Williams booked her spot in the semi-finals of the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto on Friday after overcoming a sluggish start to grind out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Czech Lucie Safarova.
Williams, whose 11-month layoff with injury and health problems ended in June, was a shadow of herself in the first set, but rallied with raw power and shot-making to wrap up the match without losing serve in the last two sets.
“I could have had a better chance in the first set, but I lost some key points,” Williams, who won the Stanford Classic last month and is on a nine-match winning streak, told reporters. “It was all about maybe one or two points here that would’ve made a difference and some silly double faults that didn’t make sense.”