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Djokovic Saves 5 M.P.; Beck Becomes Fifth German To Reach QF

Halle, Germany

Novak Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic saved five match points in the second set.

ATP World Tour No. 4 Novak Djokovic survived a scare en route to the Gerry Weber Open quarter-finals, saving five match points to defeat Frenchman Florent Serra 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 on Thursday at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Halle, Germany.

“Hopefully this one can prove to me something more that I need to believe all the time that I can come back,” said Djokovic. “That’s what I think is most important in this win today.”

Djokovic saved three match points at 2-5 in the second set as he reeled off three straight points on serve, and then faced down two more match points in the next two games. He won 11 of the final 12 games to close out the victory in two hours and five minutes.

The Serbian fired 14 aces and saved 11 of 13 break points, while converting five of 11 break point chances on Serra’s serve to reach the quarter-finals (or better) of an ATP World Tour event for the 11th time in 12 tournaments.

He said about his grass-court form: “I still think I’m not playing even close to my best on this surface. I’m making too many big steps. That’s why I’m more or less most of the time unbalanced and I’m too defensive… I have to stick more to the baseline and try to get to the net more often. I think I have a good game when I’m performing that game on grass.”

The Halle debutant is bidding for his first grass-court title after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the Queen’s Club this time last year. After suffering a surprise first-round loss in the first week of the season at Brisbane (l. to Gulbis), Djokovic hit back to reach the quarter-finals or better in his next 10 events –his run coming to an end with a third-round exit at Roland Garros (l. to Kohlschreiber).

During that span, the Belgrade native reached the finals at three successive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments and captured two ATP World Tour titles at Dubai (d. Ferrer) and at his inaugural home town tournament (d. Kubot).

World No. 53 Andreas Beck became the fifth German to advance to the Gerry Weber Open quarter-finals when he defeated Slovakian lucky loser Lukas Lacko 7-5, 7-6(5).

Beck joins Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tommy Haas, Mischa Zverev and Benjamin Becker – who all advanced to the quarter-finals on Wednesday. With four of the five German quarter-finalists residing in the top half of the draw, the Gerry Weber Open is guaranteed an all-German semi-final and one home-grown finalist.

Beck said: “I think it’s because all feel comfortable on grass and especially here at the tournament... It would be nice if we could almost call it the German championships. Unfortunately, there is Djokovic (laughs). I am very happy that my colleagues also present good tennis here.”

The 23-year-old Beck has matched his 2008 quarter-final effort (l. to Blake) in Halle and will take on Kohlschreiber for a place in the semi-finals. The left-hander, who is this week at a career-high position in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, was a quarter-finalist at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (l. to Wawrinka) in April and is looking to reach his career-first ATP World Tour semi-final.

Belgian qualifier Olivier Rochus halted the Germans' clean sweep with a hard-fought 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Philipp Petzschner. The diminutive Belgian withstood 10 aces from Petzschner’s racquet and converted four of eight break point chances in the two-hour and seven-minute match. He goes on to face Becker for a place in the semi-finals.

Former World No. 24 Rochus, who is currently No. 136 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, also reached the Halle quarterfinals in 2005 (l. to Safin) and 2006 (l. to Federer). The 28 year old is playing in just his second ATP World Tour event of the season and advanced through the first round with a 6-0, 6-0 defeat of Fernando Vicente – it was the first double bagel on grass since Newport in July 2006 when Andy Murray beat Robert Kendrick in the quarter-finals.

In the final match Thursday, German Nicolas Kiefer lost the first set against Austrian Jurgen Melzer before retiring with an abdominal muscle tear. Coming into the second-round meeting, Kiefer had won all eight of his previous matches against Melzer.

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