DUBAI, February 26, 2015
The top four seeds were all in action on quarterfinals Thursday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
World number one Novak Djokovic cruised past Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan winning 6-1, 6-1 in only 49 minutes to reach his eighth semi-final in in the desert.
“He lacks a little bit of experience and confidence on being in the big stadium. That’s where I used my opportunity from the start,” said Djokovic. “I made double break, and I felt like I was in control of the match. I didn’t allow him to get into the groove. So it was a good performance.”
The Serb will face Tomas Berdych in the stage of the final four. The 29-year-old Czech, who recorded a milestone victory yesterday by winning his 500th match on the ATP World Tour, defeated an in-form Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. The world number 53 from the Ukraine advanced to his third consecutive quarterfinal but Berdych was too strong in the end, hitting nine aces and converted three of his five break point opportunities to seal victory in one hour and 41 minutes.
“I think especially in the second set, end of the second set, he come up with some great shots,” said Berdych. “But that’s how it is. You know, you have to know how to deal with those situations. Again, it’s very good that I handled the third set how I did, two breaks.”
Only 18-year-old Croat Borna Coric caused the upset of day knocking out third seed Andy Murray in straight sets winning 6-1, 6-3 in 79 minutes. The British number one hit 15 winners but committed 55 unforced during the encounter.
“He didn’t make many errors,” said Murray. “He played very solid and he moved well. I made way too many mistakes from the beginning of the match right through to the end, early in rallies, rushing points.”
Coric didn’t have to face a single break point in the encounter to claim his second victory over a top ten player after the Croatian teenager had beaten Rafael Nadal in Basel last October.
“This is one of the biggest wins, for sure. I was just trying to maintain my level, stay in the rallies as long as I can, which I was doing really well. I was also running very well,” said Coric, who entered the draw as lucky loser. “I think I was really lucky with Kohlschreiber pulling out. That’s the life. Sometimes you’re going to get lucky. Maybe next tournament I will have match point and I’m not going to take it. That’s tennis. One week you gonna play good, you gonna be lucky, and it’s those kind of days for you to take opportunities,” the Croatian told.
The youngster set a semi-final clash with defending champion Roger Federer. The 33-year-old Swiss was only 20 minutes on court gaining the opening set 6-1 before his opponent Richard Gasquet was forced to retire due to problems in his back.
“I think I played well. I served well,” Federer was satisfied with his short performance. “Then again, you know, the test was so short that it’s tough to judge on a 20-minute match. But I think I was hitting the ball well again like yesterday. I felt able to play aggressive and do what I was hoping to do, so I was very pleased, actually.”