Sun, Aug 16, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Djokovic advances, Nishikori solves Nadal


Novak Djokovic returns to Ernests Gulbis during their Rogers Cup quarter-final in Montreal on Friday.

Photo: AP

Novak Djokovic had to fight off an upset bid from qualifier Ernests Gulbis, defeating the Latvian 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup.

However, Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic a former champion at the event, was unable to escape an in-form Kei Nishikori as the fourth seed sent out the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 thanks in part to six double-faults from Nadal.

The red-hot Nishikori is riding a wave of momentum from his hardcourt title last week in Washington and next faces second seed Andy Murray, who beat French 10th-seeded holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 and took revenge for a semi-final loss a year ago in Canada.

Nishikori won his first match against Nadal after seven losses, taking just under 90 minutes to advance in his best Canadian showing.

“It took a long time to finally beat him, but I’m very happy to win my first match against Rafael,” Nishikori said. “I knew I have to be aggressive, so I have to change some tactics to play against Rafa.”

“Everything was feeling well today. I felt like everything was going in,” he said. “I mean, he’s still not maybe 100 percent, but he’s Rafa.”

Seventh seed Nadal was playing in Canada for the first time since winning his third title there in 2013 and he now stands 28-7 in the country.

Djokovic found himself down a set and a break against Gulbis.

Gulbis, whose career best was a Roland Garros semi-final last year, has since gone into a funk this year.

However, he forced the world No. 1 to save two match points in the second-set tiebreaker of a thriller lasting two-and-a-half hours.

Djokovic leveled at a set apiece and re-established order as he ran away with the third set for the win.

“Ernests was a better player for two sets — unfortunately he missed two match points,” Djkovic said. “I wasn’t very happy with my game, but you have to muscle it out sometimes and I had to put in the effort.”

“One day you play well, the other you don’t. It’s important to stay committed to every point, believe, fight. That’s what gets you out of trouble,” he said.

Djokovic is bidding for his fourth Canadian title and the win put him into a semi-final against unseeded Jeremy Chardy.

Chardy booked his first career appearance in the semi-final of an ATP Masters 1000 event, struggling for three hours to defeat John Isner 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (15/13), 7-6 (7/4).

Chardy overcame 32 aces from the American to reach the semis.

The match, which began two hours late due to rain, lasted 3 hours, 8 minutes.

“I’m very proud to reach my first Masters semi-final,” said the 49th-ranked winner, who leveled his season record at 18-18.

“I was lucky to come back in the second,” he said.

“I’m really happy. I stayed really focused and really strong in my head the whole match,” Chardy said.

Chardy advanced with 12 aces and a single break of serve while saving break points on six of seven occasions.

The Frenchman has cast a spell over Isner in their career meetings, winning all four of their matches, including at Roland Garros in the second round in May.

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