Djokovic wins 20th straight to make semis

Reuters, PARIS

Sun, Nov 08, 2015 - Page 18

Novak Djokovic on Friday beat Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (10/8) in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters to claim his 20th consecutive win and stay on course for an unprecedented third title in a row at the event.

Both players conceded only one break point as all games went to serve and the world No. 1 prevailed on his second match point to set up a mouthwatering semi-final meeting with fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka after the Swiss downed 14-times Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (9/7).

A day after his serve was less than perfect against Gilles Simon, Djokovic was extremely accurate with his delivery and played better on the key points to see off Czech Berdych, the 2005 champion.

The Serb, looking to become the first man to win six Masters titles in a season, now has a 20-2 win-loss record against Berdych, who has been beaten in all their 16 hard-court matches. It was Djokovic’s 650th career win, the first he clinched without breaking serve.

“It was a really tough match, a real battle that went to the last point. I’m just glad I managed to stay calm in the important moments and pull it through,” Djokovic said.

Wawrinka also had to battle to knock out Nadal, ending a tense encounter with a superb forehand pass after saving two set points in the second set.

Wawrinka has now beaten Nadal is three of their past four meetings after losing the first 12 matches they played.

Earlier, Andy Murray reached the last four for the first time when he saw off local favorite Richard Gasquet 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-3.

With both the ATP World Tour and Davis Cup finals looming, Andy Murray got the test he needed.

The world No. 3 allowed the French 10th seed to come back into the contest when he was let down by his first serve in the second set, but regained his momentum to book a meeting with David Ferrer.

With the two big events coming up later this month, Murray was hoping to be challenged and he was not disappointed.

“You don’t want to play loads of those matches over the next few weeks, but I played two extremely quick matches the first two rounds,” the second seed told a news conference.

“So to get a long one, for me, and I think in that atmosphere as well, with the Davis Cup coming up is a very positive thing for me, you know, to go through that physically and emotionally,” Murray said.

Murray allowed the French 10th seed to come back into the contest when he was let down by his first serve in the second set.

Murray got off to a strong start, breaking in the second game on his way to a 3-0 lead.

Gasquet remained aggressive and was rewarded with a break of serve in the seventh game as his opponent grew cautious.

The Frenchman, backed by a partisan Bercy crowd, went 5-3 up in the tiebreak and at 6-5 Murray saved a set point with a superb sliced passing shot before going on to clinch the opener.

Murray was forced on to the back foot in the second set and managed only six winners as Gasquet leveled.

The Olympic and twice Grand Slam champion struggled on serve and allowed his opponent to break for 2-1 in the decider, but quickly got back on track.

Murray stole Gasquet’s serve before breaking again for a 5-3 advantage and then wrapping up victory.

Murray faces Spain’s David Ferrer, who downed big-serving John Isner 6-3, 6-7 (8/6), 6-2, with the American finishing the match exhausted.