x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Novak Djokovic is ready for a fighting David Ferrer

Novak Djokovic says that just because Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are not in his way at the US Open that doesn't make things any easier. He gets Spanish bulldozer David Ferrer next in the semis.

Novak Djokovic says he has no intention of overlooking Spain's David Ferrer in their semi-final match at the US Open.
Novak Djokovic says he has no intention of overlooking Spain's David Ferrer in their semi-final match at the US Open.

NEW YORK // Defending champion Novak Djokovic tackles Spanish bulldozer David Ferrer for a US Open final spot on Saturday, determined to preserve the grand slam stranglehold held by himself, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The world's top three have confidently parcelled out 29 of the last 30 majors between them but, for the first time in more than eight years, a grand slam has reached the last-four stage without either Federer or Nadal still involved.

Federer, the 17-time grand slam title winner, was knocked out in the quarter-finals. Nadal, the holder of 11 majors, never even made it to New York as he was forced to rest his increasingly troublesome knees at home in Spain.

That leaves Djokovic, 25, battling to win a sixth major, as the sole survivor of the golden generation at Flushing Meadows.

The Serb has certainly looked the part, reaching a sixth successive US Open semi-final, and 10th in a row at all majors Slams, without dropping a set.

On Thursday he turned back the 2009 champion Juan Martín del Potro 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 in the quarter-final to set-up a date against Ferrer, whom he has beaten eight times in 13 meetings with a 7-2 hard-court advantage.

If he gets through, either Andy Murray, four-times a runner-up at the majors, or Tomas Berdych, Federer's conqueror and a major finalist just once, will be waiting in Sunday's championship match.

"Murray, Berdych, Ferrer, myself, we're all top 10 players," Djokovic said. "Maybe for some people it was surprising to see Roger lose because he's been so consistent and dominant a player in the last couple of years.

"He's always expected to get to at least the semi-finals of every grand slam. But Berdych deserved to win. He came up with incredible tennis. I have never seen him play that well."

Djokovic said he would not be underestimating Ferrer who has equalled his best grand slam performance of a run to the semi-finals in New York in 2007.

"David is a fighter. He's one of the biggest competitors we have in the game. People overlook him," said the world No 2.

Ferrer, the No 4 seed, matched his best US Open showing by outlasting Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 in 4 hours, 31 minutes.

"It was an emotional match, one of the most emotional of my career," Ferrer said. "I'm really happy. It was a really tough match. Janko, he's an amazing player and he really fought a lot.

"He deserved to win too."

Ferrer dismissed suggestions that, at age 30, it is "now or never" for him to win a major championship.

"No, I don't think so. I don't think I have my last chance or anything like that," he said. "I am in the semi-final."



Murray said he has nothing but respect for Berdych, the Czech power-hitter who stunned five-time US Open champion Federer, ahead of their semi-final on Saturday.

Berdych’s stunning victory over the world No 1 enabled him to make his US Open semi-final debut against the British third seed, who was runner-up to Federer in 2008.

Berdych will be buoyed by a winning record against the Scot that stands at 4-2.

“Berdych is a great player. Let’s show him some respect, too,” said Murray after his passage to the last four for the third time was followed almost exclusively with questions about Federer, whose match with Berdych had not yet been played.

That was after Murray had seen off a nervous Marin Cilic on Wednesday but before Berdych ended Federer’s proud record of 21 successive wins in night sessions on Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows.

“He’s a huge hitter of the ball,” Murray said of Berdych.

“Even if you want to dictate points and be aggressive, he can take that away from you because he’s such a powerful guy.

Berdych has endured a roller-coaster season, suffering first-round losses in Wimbledon and the Olympics, a fourth-round exit at the French Open and a run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. But his game has flourished at Flushing Meadows, where he is second on the aces list with 71, bettered only by the 103 sent down by Canada’s Milos Raonic, who was beaten in the fourth round by Murray.

Berdych has also committed nine double faults in the tournament.

“If my game is well and I’m able to play my game, then I have a dangerous enough game to beat anyone,” he said.

Murray also carries the burden of attempting to become Britain’s first major winner since Fred Perry in 1936.


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