No­vak, Roger in semi show­down

Fed­erer made to work hard for his quar­ter-fi­nal win over Del Potro

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

GETTY IM­AGES

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.

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