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Del Potro Hitting Form, Sets Djokovic Showdown

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic set a semi-final clash with Juan Martin del Potro.

Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro advanced Friday to a semi-final showdown with second seed Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati. Del Potro, who recently won the bronze medal match against Djokovic at the London Olympics, advanced to the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over French lucky loser Jeremy Chardy.

World No. 9 del Potro, who rose as high as No. 4 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings after winning the 2009 US Open (d. Federer), needed just 76 minutes to end Chardy’s giant-killing campaign. The Argentine surrendered only 12 points on serve and broke Chardy four times from 17 opportunities.

The No. 38-ranked Chardy was granted a place in the main draw following John Isner’s withdrawal and maximised his opportunity by ousting Andy Roddick and defending champion Andy Murray to reach his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final.

The 23-year-old del Potro improved to a 48-12 match record on the season. He is looking to add to triumphs in Marseille (d. Llodra) and Estoril (d. Gasquet) by winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.  

"I think I'm in a good level at the moment after the Olympics," said del Potro. "I have confidence to play against all the players. But anyway I'm still feeling a little difference between the top players and me. But I know I'm getting closer very slowly, so that's important. I'm working for that."

Djokovic was equally impressive in a 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of 12th-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic. "It was my best match so far here in this tournament," said Djokovic. "Came in the right moment, really. I had the biggest challenge today with Cilic who has been playing well the last couple of months. Played a really good match."

The Serb notched his eighth successive win as he won 84 per cent of points behind his first serve and saved all four break points he won. Against del Potro, Djokovic will look to avenge the defeat he suffered in the bronze-medal match at the London 2012 Olympics.

"All these losses made me stronger," said Djokovic. "They are difficult, especially when you're playing for a country and when you're in the Olympic Games and we're fighting for the bronze medal. He won that match. It happens. It's a sport. You lose, you win, but the most important thing is to try to move on and become even better and even stronger from those experiences and try to win. So tomorrow will be my opportunity to win against him."

The 25-year-old Djokovic is bidding to win the Cincinnati crown for the first time after runner-up efforts in 2008 (l. to Murray), 2009 (l. to Federer) and 2011 (l. to Murray). The Belgrade native won his 12th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at last week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto, beating Richard Gasquet in the final.

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