Toronto: Serbian World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Frenchman Gael Monfils advanced to the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup with victories over Tomas Berdych and home-crowd favourite Milos Raonic here.
Djokovic was the big favourite Friday evening against the fifth-seeded Czech, having won 24 of their previous 26 matches, but he squandered a 5-2 first-set lead and nearly lost the tie-breaker when he went down 3-6, reports Efe.
The top-seeded Serbian, however, saved three set points and then won the second set without any hiccups to advance with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 victory.
In the late match, the 10th-seeded Monfils surprised Raonic, the 2016 Wimbledon finalist and No. 4 seed, using his athleticism and strong serving to overcome the Canadian’s array of weapons.
Monfils was better on the big points in this match-up of two elite servers, staving off all four break points he faced and converting two of his four chances to win 6-4, 6-4.
On Saturday, he will have the daunting task of facing Djokovic, who leads their head-to-head 11-0. One of their tightest matches, however, came at the 2014 Rogers Cup, when Djokovic edged the Frenchman in a third-set tie-breaker.
The other semi-final of the day will witness Japanese No. 3 seed Kei Nishikori taking on Swiss No. 2 seed Stan Wawrinka.
Wawrinka and Nishikori advanced to the semi-finals respective victories over Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov.
In Friday’s quarter-final, Wawrinka brushed aside Anderson 6-1, 6-3, taking advantage of the South African’s poor serving to cruise to victory in one hour and 13 minutes.
In the first set, Anderson put just 48 percent of his first serves in play, which proved costly as he won only 23 percent of his second-serve points and was broken three times.
The second set was more competitive, with Anderson making only 53 percent of his first serves but getting broken just once and creating two break-point chances against Wawrinka, who saved both of them.
“It was a really good match,” Wawrinka was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s Web site. “I started really well from the first game. It showed me that I was ready, aggressive (and) moving really well.”
“It’s one of the best matches I have played this year, I think. I was calm, serving really good and mixing it up a lot,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nishikori pulled away from Dimitrov in the third set for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win.