Novak Djokovic said he needed some luck to escape on Friday with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
The top seed with three Canadian titles was tested in a 71-minute opening set, but survived before motoring to victory over a top-10 rival he has now beaten in 25 of 27 meetings.
Djokovic needed two hours to reach the final four, winning his 12th straight match against Berdych. The Czech has now lost 17 straight matches against top-five opponents.
However, it was not all one-way traffic for Djokovic, who struggled to close out a testing tiebreaker.
Berdych showed his desire by winning five consecutive points from 1-3 down in the first-set decider, only to miss on three set points as he finally handed over the set to his opponent.
Djokovic earned a second-set break for 2-1 and rode the margin to his eventual victory in a match which was well below his best level.
“I don’t know how I got out of that tiebreak,” Djokovic said. “I guess I was just able to focus on the next point. Tomas had a double fault [on set point] and some errors. I was very fortunate to win that first set. I really had some relief going into the second.”
Djokovic was due to line up yesterday against in-form Frenchman Gael Monfils, who dominated Canadian fourth seed and home favorite Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4 in 72 minutes.
Monfils, who won last weekend’s title in Washington, was untouchable on the night.
“I played good, I’m strong, full of confidence,” Monfils said. “I feel confident with my game. When I’m in shape, I’m tough to beat.”
Second seed Stan Wawrinka stormed into his first semi-final in Toronto, thrashing South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-1, 6-3.
The Swiss second seed was next due to face Japanese third seed Kei Nishikori, who beat former top-10 player Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 with four breaks of the Bulgarian’s serve.
Although he is still recovering from the rib problems which forced him out of the fourth round of Wimbledon, Asia’s top player won his 39th match of the year, fighting back in the third set after losing the second and lifting his record over Dimitrov to 3-0.
Wawrinka was in full flow against Anderson as he swept the opening set in a master-class display.
Anderson, ranked 34th, has yet to reach the final four at a Masters 1000 event, losing in all seven of his attempts.
Wawrinka needed just 73 minutes to dispatch Anderson, who was limited to six aces and dropped his serve four times.
“It was a really good match, I started really well the first game,” Wawrinka said. “It’s one of the best matches of the year I’ve played. It showed me that I was ready, aggressive, moving really well. I was calm, served very good and mixed up my game.”
Two-time Grand Slam winner Wawrinka, the world No. 5, is chasing his fourth title of the season after success in Chennai, Dubai and Geneva.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017