Djokovic gets through to semis

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Novak Djokovic had to fight off an up­set bid from qual­i­fier Ernests Gul­bis, de­feat­ing the Lat­vian 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 on Fri­day to reach the semi­fi­nals of the Mon­treal Mas­ters.

But Rafael Nadal, like Djokovic a for­mer cham­pion at the event, was un­able to es­cape an on-form Kei Nishikori as the fourth seed sent out the Spa­niard 6-2, 6-4 thanks in part to six dou­ble-faults from Nadal.

The red-hot Nishikori is rid­ing a wave of mo­men­tum from his hard­court ti­tle last week in Washington and will next face sec­ond seed Andy Mur­ray who beat French 10th-seeded holder Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 and took re­venge for a semi­fi­nal loss a year ago in Canada.

Nishikori won his first match against Nadal af­ter seven losses, tak­ing just un­der 90 min­utes to ad­vance in his best Cana­dian show­ing.

“It took a long time to fi­nally beat him, but I’m very happy to win my first match against Rafael,” said Nishikori.

“I knew I have to be ag­gres­sive, so I have to change some tac­tics to play against Rafa.

“Ev­ery­thing was feel­ing well to­day. I felt like ev­ery­thing was go­ing in.

“I mean, he’s still not maybe 100 per­cent, but he’s Rafa.”

Sev­enth seed Nadal was play­ing in Canada for the first time since win­ning his third ti­tle here in 2013 and he now stands 28-7 in the coun­try.

Djokovic found him­self down a set and a break against Gul­bis.

Gul­bis, whose ca­reer best was a Roland Gar­ros semi­fi­nal in 2014, has since gone into a funk in 2015.

But he forced his world No. 1 to save two match points in the sec­ond­set tiebreaker of a thriller last­ing two and a half hours.

Djokovic lev­eled at a set apiece and re-es­tab­lished or­der as he ran away with the third set for the win.

“Ernests was a bet­ter player for two sets — un­for­tu­nately he missed two match points,” Djkovic said.

‘Mus­cle it out’

“I wasn’t very happy with my game. But you have to mus­cle it out some­times and I had to put in the ef­fort.

“One day you play well, the other you don’t. It’s im­por­tant to stay com­mit­ted to ev­ery point, be­lieve, fight. That’s what gets you out of trou­ble.”

Djokovic is bid­ding for his fourth Cana­dian ti­tle and the win puts him into a semi­fi­nal against un­seeded Jeremy Chardy.

Chardy booked his first ca­reer ap­pear­ance in the semi­fi­nal of an ATP Mas­ters 1000 event, strug­gling for three hours to de­feat John Is­ner 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (15/13), 7-6 (7/4).

Chardy over­came 32 aces from the big Amer­i­can to reach the fi­nal four.

The match, which be­gan two hours late due to rain, lasted three hours and eight min­utes.

“I’m very proud to reach my first Mas­ters semi­fi­nal,” said the 49thranked win­ner who lev­eled his sea­son record at 18-18. “I was lucky to come back in the sec­ond.

“I’m re­ally happy. I stayed re­ally fo­cused and re­ally strong in my head the whole match.”

Chardy ad­vanced with 12 aces and a sin­gle break of serve while sav­ing break points on six of seven oc­ca­sions.

The French­man has cast a spell over Is­ner in their ca­reer meet­ings, win­ning all four of their matches in­clud­ing at Roland Gar­ros in the sec­ond round in May.

AP

Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga, of France, serves to Andy Mur­ray, of Bri­tain, dur­ing the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Rogers Cup ten­nis tour­na­ment in Mon­treal, Que­bec, Fri­day, Aug. 14.

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