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Djokovic Beats Berdych For Semis Spot

Melbourne, Australia

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic improved to a 12-1 record over Tomas Berdych.

World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the Australian Open semi-finals on Tuesday night in Melbourne as he defeated fifth seed Tomas Berdych 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The 25-year-old Djokovic is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win three successive Australian Open crowns, having triumphed in 2011 (d. Murray) and 2012 (d. Nadal). He won his first major trophy at Melbourne Park in 2008 (d. Tsonga). 

The Belgrade native recovered from the 5hr., 2min., marathon he contested with Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday night and spent exactly half that time in dismissing 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Berdych in two hours and 31 minutes. 

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“I felt good enough to go another five hours,” said Djokovic. “But I definitely wasn't thinking about it.  I tried to get the work done as fast and efficiently as possible. I was very happy with the way I started the match. I was very aggressive out there, going for my shots, which wasn't the case against Wawrinka. So it's a good improvement and very encouraging for next match.”

Djokovic lost just one point on serve as he raced to a one-set lead. Berdych came back strongly, though, breaking at the start of the second set and fending off four break back points from Djokovic in the 10th game to level the match.

Djokovic responded in ruthless fashion and engineered a commanding 4-0 lead in the third set as Berdych backed off in his aggression at the net. The Serb sealed the third set and immediately took a stranglehold in the fourth set with an early service break. Djokovic converted his fourth match point in the 10th game, closing with his 10th ace.

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"I've seen him play way better," said Berdych. "He played really good today. But the matches before [against me] he played much, much better. It was kind of a chance for me, but I didn't come up with my best game and that's what was deciding today."

The Serb goes onto face fourth seed David Ferrer, who earlier rallied from two sets down to beat Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-2. Djokovic holds a 9-5 career lead over Ferrer, beating the Valencia native most recently in four sets in the US Open semi-finals last year.

“He's a great competitor,” said Djokovic of Ferrer. “He's somebody that has a lot of respect from all the players because he's playing so many tournaments and works very, very hard. 

“You can see because basically in his 30s he is one of the fittest players around and is playing the best tennis of his life in the past 15 months. It's the semis of a Grand Slam, so I expect a tough match.”

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