World No. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to the final of the ATP Rogers Cup in Montreal when Frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga retired trailing 6-4, 3-0 on Saturday, leaving the sensational Serb on the brink of a record-smashing title.
Tsonga’s retirement with an injured forearm provided a shock ending to their mouth-watering Wimbledon semi-final rematch, but the Frenchman’s surrender in the face of the Djokovic juggernaut seemed almost predictable.
Djokovic was to take on in-form American Mardy Fish in yesterday’s final and have the chance to become the first to capture five Masters series titles in a single season.
Tsonga said the injury had dogged him for three days and the pain had worsened in that time.
Tsonga came into the contest holding a 5-3 edge in head-to-head meetings and had been in superb form in Montreal, counting two-time champion Roger Federer among his scalps.
However, few tennis players have enjoyed a more spectacular campaign than Djokovic, who extended his match record to a dazzling 52-1, a magical run that has so far produced eight titles, including Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
A Montreal crown would cap a perfect start to the Serb’s reign as the world’s top ranked player, making him the first since Pete Sampras in 1993 to win an ATP tournament on debut as No. 1.
The Wimbledon rematch got off to a riveting start, the two men trading punches in an electrifying opening set that was decided when Djokovic finally broke the athletic Frenchman at 5-4, celebrating with a clenched fist pump and a mighty roar of satisfaction.
However, much of the drama evaporated in the second set, as Djokovic immediately broke Tsonga on the way to a 3-0 lead.
Showing no sign of distress, Tsonga called for the trainers during the changeover and after a brief discussion picked up his bag and walked off court to a shower of boos.
Serena Williams advanced to her second straight final by beating fourth-seed Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday at the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto and declared her game was approaching its grand-slam winning best.
The former world No. 1, who returned to competition in June after 11 months out with injuries and health problems, will carry a 10-match winning streak into the final against Samantha Stosur and appears in ominous form ahead of the US Open starting on Aug. 29.
Williams, who won the Stanford Classic last month in her third tournament back, said her game was reaching her Wimbledon--winning form from last year.
“I feel it’s better today than it has been the past couple rounds, but I feel it’s coming along,” Williams told reporters.
After spending more than two hours on court and being forced to three sets in each of her last two matches, Williams simply overpowered Azarenka, who entered the semi-final having lost just six games in three matches.
The first set went with serve until Williams broke Azarenka in the sixth game with a cross-court winner that prompted the 13-times grand slam champion to pump her fist and belt out a loud “come on!” in front of an adoring crowd.
The players exchanged breaks over the next two games before Williams clinched the set with an ace. She remained in control the rest of the way, breaking Azarenka’s serve in the seventh and ninth game to take the match.
Stosur booked a spot in her second final of this year with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, who came into the match riding a nine-match win streak and having not dropped a set all week.