Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Murray, Djokovic to face off at Sony Open

AP, KEY BISCAYNE, Florida

Even with his surgically repaired back still nowhere near perfect, defending champion Andy Murray needed only 73 minutes to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1 at the Sony Open on Tuesday and set up a quarter-final with Novak Djokovic.

“My game is getting there,” said Murray, the No. 6 seed, who acknowledged he was dealing with a sore back. “The last six sets I’ve played, very high-level tennis, very few errors.”

He will need to keep it that way against Djokovic, who eased past Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5.

Second seed Djokovic even gave back a point in the second set.

A ground-stroke from Robredo clipped the baseline and Djokovic could not handle it, but the ball was erroneously called out. After a review showed the ball was in, the point was ordered to be replayed.

Djokovic shouted: “It’s OK, it’s OK” as the fans applauded his sportsmanship.

“For me, it’s something that is part of the sport, fair play,” Djokovic said. “I expect everybody else to do the same. Of course, not everybody’s the same, but for me, that’s something that’s normal. Just a normal, natural reaction.”

Top seed Rafael Nadal downed 14th seed Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. Nadal has dropped a total of nine games in six sets so far in the tournament.

Singles players with a combined 66 Grand Slam victories were in action on Tuesday, including Roger Federer — a winner of 17 of them himself — and he looked very much like the Federer of old, needing only 49 minutes to beat ninth seed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2.

“Look, things went well out on the court today,” Federer said, clearly understating matters.

Federer, the No. 5 seed, had 25 winners to Gasquet’s eight, converted five of his six break-point chances and won 92 percent of his first-serve points in the second set.

Next up for Federer is 20th seed Kei Nishikori, who upset No. 4 David Ferrer 7-6 (9/7), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9).

Ferrer had beaten Nishikori in the same round at Key Biscayne a year ago, their most recent meeting before Tuesday.

No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine also pulled off an upset, topping third seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals.

The last American in the men’s draw was ousted when 10th seed John Isner lost to No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5.

On the women’s side, Maria Sharapova rallied from a break down in the first set to oust Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1 and earn a spot in the semi-finals.

She has been a finalist at Key Biscayne five times, but never the champion.

“I love the energy here,” Sharapova said.

Fourth seed Sharapova, who needed three-setters to get through her two most recent matches at Key Biscayne, feasted on 30 unforced errors by eighth seed Kvitova. Sharapova won 11 of the final 13 games and moved into a semi-final with Serena Williams, the defending champion, who won 62 of 100 points in her 6-2, 6-2 romp over fifth seed Angelique Kerber.

Williams broke Kerber twice in each set, faced only one break point and held a more than two-to-one advantage in winners.

“When you’re playing champions, you like to play your best,” Williams said. “She always gives me her best... I love playing her. I really do. It doesn’t matter what surface. She’s one of my favorite people to play.”

Sharapova said she was eager to face Williams again.

“It’s no secret that she’s been a big challenge of mine, an opponent that obviously I would love to beat,” Sharapova said.

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