No. 1 Djokovic beats Berdych to reach Paris Masters semis
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 07, 2015 01:36 PM
Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during their quarterfinal match of the BNP Masters tennis tournament, at Bercy Arena, in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic saved set points in both sets to remain on course for his third straight Paris Masters title after beating fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8) in a hard-fought quarterfinal on Friday.
Chasing his 10th title of a brilliant season, the top-ranked Serb clinched his 20th consecutive win and next plays fourth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland — who beat him in the French Open final to deprive him of all Grand Slam titles this year.
Wawrinka overcame an early break of serve and saved two set points in each tiebreaker to beat seventh-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain 7-6 (8), 7-6 (7) for only the third time in their 16 career meetings — although all of those wins have come in the past four matches.
"It was a very intense game, he had set points and I held on," Wawrinka said. "I played the match of my life against Novak (in the French Open final), but this match will be completely different."
Earlier, second-seeded Briton Andy Murray and No. 8 David Ferrer of Spain also won their quarterfinals to set up a semifinal clash.
In a frantic day of action, Berdych left the indoor arena to warm applause but with regrets, missing a set point at 6-5 on Djokovic's serve — his only break point of the first set.
"(The match) could have gone a different way," Djokovic said. "Credit to Berdych for playing on a high level, pushing me in the back of the court with his depth on the shots."
In the second-set tiebreaker, Djokovic moved 5-3 up only for Berdych to pull back to 6-5. But the Czech player wasted two more set points with over-hit forehands.
At 7-7, another wide forehand gave Djokovic his first match point but the Serb's own forehand sailed long.
Berdych's forehand let him down again on the next point, giving Djokovic a second match point. When his shot was called out, Djokovic challenged and the replay showed the ball had landed just in, meaning that the point was replayed. It was over after Berdych's backhand hit the net.
"It was a really tough match, a real battle," Djokovic said. "I'm just glad I managed to stay calm in the important moments and pull through."
Nadal's match was also a battle.
His form has picked up since slumping to 10th in the world rankings in June, but the 14-time Grand Slam champion still seemed affected by nerves, failing to capitalize on a 5-3 lead and then set points at 6-5 and 8-7 up in the first-set tiebreaker.
Wawrinka made him pay, breaking him in the seventh game of the second set after Nadal double-faulted.
But serving for the match at 30-15 up, Wawrinka's composure deserted him, allowing Nadal to break back and then hold for 5-5.
Then, it was Nadal's turn to succumb to nerves.
At 5-2 up in the second tiebreaker he missed a routine smash at the net to let Wawrinka back in. Nadal then missed two set-point chances as Wawrinka, who saved one of them after a pulsating 23-stroke rally, then moved 8-7 ahead with a huge forehand and a smash at the net before sealing victory on his first match point.
The match finished at 1:12 a.m. and Wawrinka drank coffee during changeovers.
Murray was the first on court after fans had finished the lunches, beating No. 10 Richard Gasquet of France 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, serving out the match to love.
Ferrer, the 2012 champion, followed up by beating 13th-seeded American John Isner 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2.
Ferrer, who has won five titles this year, seemed to be cruising when he broke Isner in the eighth game of the second set. That gave him a chance to serve out the match, but from 40-15 his composure deserted him.
"I was waiting for him to make mistakes," Ferrer said.
Isner forced a tiebreaker, clinching it with a huge forehand that clipped Ferrer's outstretched racket.
Ferrer was given a warning from the chair umpire at the start of the third set when he yelled out in frustration after missing four consecutive break points.