Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic remained unbeaten this year by routing Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-0, 6-3 as the top four seeds powered into the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships on Thursday.
Defending champion Roger Federer brushed aside former world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2.
Djokovic next plays fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who repeated his semi-final effort of last year by dispatching German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2. Federer faces third seed Tomas Berdych, who beat Russian wild-card Dmitry Tursunov for the second time in five days, 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic won his 11th straight match to start the year. He broke three times in the first set and once in a second that was a little more competitive, but a strong first serve in which he won 89 percent of points and a powerful forehand helped him improve his win-loss record against Seppi to 10-0.
“It was an even better performance than the first two matches, so match after match I’m elevating the level, which is good,” Djokovic said. “I’m trying to do my best on the court. Tomorrow, I have a big challenge, the biggest so far. Hopefully I can sustain the level from today.”
Federer had also little problem with Davydenko, breaking him twice in the first set. The second set was much the same, as Federer jumped out to 4-1 when Davydenko hit a backhand into the net.
Federer had two aces and an overhead smash to make it 5-1 and closed it out with a love service game.
“I was very happy. Good match for me. I served well from the start,” said Federer, who won 84 percent of his first-serve points and had a first-serve percentage of 76 percent.
Del Potro managed to neutralize the big-serving Brands and said his right wrist, which he injured in 2010, was not bothering him as much as it did earlier in the tournament.
“I served well today. I didn’t [concede] any break points. I think I took all my chances to break his serve,” Del Potro said.
Berdych also served well against Tursunov, hitting nine aces and winning 81 percent of his first-service points. He also did well to move the Russian around the court, aware that Tursunov’s sore left hamstring limited his mobility.
“I know the situation. If you are in the position of playing one of the top guys and actually you don’t feel well, you just have a small issue in your body, it’s just a terrible match,” Berdych said.
? DELRAY BEACH
AP, DELRAY BEACH, Florida
Third seed Sam Querrey of the US double-faulted on the last two points of the deciding tiebreaker to lose to qualifier Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) at the Delray Beach International Championships on Thursday.
Querrey double-faulted eight times in the match. The American, who led 4-0 in the third set, double-faulted at 30-40 when serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set.
“I played a sloppy game at 4-1, and then at 5-4 I played some tentative shots and the double fault killed me, and then it’s a 50-50 match after that,” Querrey said. “It was just one of those days, one of those matches.”
Gulbis smashed his racket when he lost his serve in the first game of the third set, which delivered a warning from the umpire. Then in the fifth game of the third set, Gulbis took a point penalty after cursing.
“At that moment you don’t care so much,” Gulbis said of trailing two service breaks in the third set. “If I didn’t get that first service break back, then it would be over real fast.”
Second seed Tommy Haas of Germany moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Haas never faced a break point against serve in the 67-minute match against the world No .42 Istomin.
Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun crashed out after a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
In other matches, qualifier Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain upset eighth-seeded Xavier Malisse, a former two-time Delray champion, 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-3; Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania defeated wild-card Jack Sock of the US 3-6, 6-4, 6-1; Eduoard Roger-Vasselin of France beat Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 7-5; and Ivan Dodig of Croatia beat Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-3, 7-5.
Additional reoporting by Staff writer