No­vak Djokovic holds off David Fer­rer to book Is­ner clash at Miami Masters semis

The China Post - - SPORTS -

No­vak Djokovic re­cov­ered from a slow start and had to battle at the end to over­come te­na­cious Spa­niard David Fer­rer on Thurs­day to reach the Miami Masters semi­fi­nals.

Ser­bia’s world num­ber one tri­umphed 7-5, 7-5 and ad­vanced to a meet­ing with big-serv­ing Amer­i­can John Is­ner, who over­pow­ered Ja­pan’s world num­ber five Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-3.

Djokovic, the de­fend­ing cham­pion and win­ner of the In­dian Wells ti­tle less than a fort­night ago, came from two breaks down in the first set as Fer­rer cel­e­brated his 33rd birth­day with a run­away start.

But Djokovic reeled him in to take the first set and served for victory lead­ing 5-4 in the sec­ond.

Fer­rer was hav­ing no part of it. He broke Djokovic, but was bro­ken him­self a game later to let Djokovic again serve for the match.

Djokovic now owns eight straight wins over the Spa­niard, win­ner of three ti­tles al­ready this sea­son.

“David is one of the tough­est oppo- nents, I knew the match would be phys­i­cal,” said Djokovic. “He gives you noth­ing and makes you work for ev­ery point.

“My strat­egy was to try and dom­i­nate from the base­line, but stay alert for chances to come to the net. That is some­thing I’ve been work­ing.

“It was a tough match, but one that I en­joyed. The next round will be to­tally dif­fer­ent against Is­ner, who has one of the best serves in the game.”

The tense mo­ments against Fer­rer fol­lowed Djokovic’s great es­cape against Alexandr Dol­go­polov, who was up a set and a break in his fourth-round loss to the Serbi.

Is­ner, whose year has been mod­est at best, has ex­ploded into form on the hard­courts of Miami, where he has yet to drop a ser­vice game.

He ended the hopes of world num­ber five Nishikori, Asia’s top player who reached the US Open fi­nal last Septem­ber. It was Is­ner’s sec­ond top-10 win of the tour­na­ment, af­ter his up­set of six­thranked Mi­los Raonic on Tues­day.

“Things just snow­balled for me,” Is­ner said, adding that the hot con­di­tions suited his game per­fectly.

He made the most of that fir­ing 13 aces and 33 win­ners over­all.

“I just played well,” Is­ner said. “I’ve been serv­ing well re­ally for a while now, and I did that again to­day. I was tak­ing care of my serve. I was tak­ing my chances on his serve, and the ball was find­ing the right spots for me.”

No Chance for Nishikori

Nishikori had never faced the mon­ster de­liv­ery of Is­ner and was un­able to cope with the power off the big man’s rac­quet. Is­ner de­liv­ered his fi­nal ace on match point af­ter 70 min­utes.

“He played re­ally well to­day — ev­ery­thing — I didn’t have any chance,” said Nishikori, who man­aged only five win­ners.

“His fore­hand, his back­hand, he hit some win­ners from back of the base­line. I couldn’t re­ally stop him to­day.”

Nishikori reached the Miami semi­fi­nals a year ago af­ter beat­ing Fer­rer and Roger Fed­erer but was un­able to play his sched­uled match against Djokovic be­cause of a groin in­jury.

“It’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing to lose to­day,” he said. “But I had a good three matches here. I think I’m play­ing good again.”

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