Novak, Roger in semi showdown
Federer made to work hard for his quarter-final win over Del Potro
NOVAK Djokovic and Roger Federer will play each other for the first time this year after both won their quarter-final ties at the Paris Masters tournament yesterday.
Djokovic swept into the semi-finals with a rapid-fire 6- 1 6- 4 win over Stanislas Wawrinka, while Federer came through a second set wobble to edge Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 4-6 6-3.
It will be the 30th meeting between the two, but the first since Djokovic defeated the Swiss great in the ATP World Tour final in London a year ago.
Djokovic, Paris Masters champion in 2009, said that Federer was having a strong finish to what had been a disappointing season.
“Roger is probably experiencing the worst season that he had in last 10 years, but he’s still a player to beat in every tournament, because he’s Roger Federer, because he has won 17 Grand Slams, and we all know how successful a career he has,” the Serb said.
“You cannot underestimate him, although maybe he’s not at the form where he was when he was No 1 of the world. But I have been watching his matches in Basel last week and here. I think he’s playing really well.”
Fifth seed Federer had lost for the third straight time to the towering Argentine in the final of the Basel tournament on Sunday, on what was home turf for him.
But with Del Potro looking decidedly leg weary from his marathon efforts in recent weeks that have seen him win 15 out of his last 16 matches, Federer was in commanding form from the start.
He broke serve to lead 3-1 and had little difficulty pocketing the first set from there in just 30 minutes, leaving his opponent stranded on the baseline with a succession of deft drop shots.
Del Potro tried hard to make a fist of it at the start of the second set, at one point leaping over the net on to his opponent’s side after failing to chase down another drop shot.
The end looked in sight for the South American, but he fought off a series of break points and then summoned up a huge effort in the 10th game to finally take Federer’s serve, levelling the set scores in the process.
Del Potro held firm until he was broken to love in the fifth game of the decider, but once again he got off the floor immediately to level at 3-3.
Federer made it three straight breaks of serve in the next game, however, and the 32 year old powered on to take another step towards what would be a 22nd career Masters title, and only his second in Paris after that of 2011.
Earlier, in the first of the quarter-finals, Djokovic got off to the perfect start against Wawrinka with a break in the second game to lead 3-0 and he wrapped up the first set at 6-1 after just 26 minutes.
The Swiss seventh seed did have his chances early in the second set, but failed to put away any of four break points he had in the second game.
Two games later he had another chance to break but once again came up short and immediately paid the price as Djokovic pounced on the Swiss’s errors to take a 4-3 lead.
The Serb served out for the win, Wawrinka ceding match point with a backhand drive that sailed marginally wide.
For Wawrinka, the consolation was that he had already clinched a place in next week’s ATP World Tour Finals in London, his first appearance in the season-ending finale. – AFP
TWO-FISTED PUNCH: Serbian Novak Djokovic in action in his quarter-final match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the Paribas Masters in Paris yesterday.