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Djokovic Sets Up Del Potro Semi-Final Clash; Federer To Play Berdych

Dubai, UAE

del Potro© Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsJuan Martin del Potro has a 2-7 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Novak Djokovic.

For the first time in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (since 1993) the top four seeds have reached the semi-finals. It’s also the third tournament this year (Australian Open and San Jose) it has happened.

World No. 1 and three-time champion Novak Djokovic will play fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals on Friday. Djokovic was in sensational form against seventh seed Andreas Seppi during the evening session, winning the first seven games in 28 minutes. Djokovic, who ran out a 6-0, 6-3 victor in 64 minutes, is now on a 16-match winning streak dating back to early November. It was also his 10th straight win over Seppi. 

Del Potro outclassed the lowest ranked player in the quarter-final draw, qualifier and World No. 97 Daniel Brands, 6-4, 6-2 in 62 minutes. Del Potro, 6’6”, broke 6’5” Brands to love at 5-4 to clinch the 35-minute opener and at one point won five straight games. He won 81 per cent of his first service points to record his 11th match win of the season. Eleven days ago, del Potro lifted his 14th ATP World Tour title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Benneteau).

“I played really well in the second set and I took my chance to break his serve at the end of the first set,” said del Potro. “He made a few mistakes with his forehand and it was a really fast game when he was serving. I tried to be focused on my service game.”

World No. 2 Roger Federer, a five-time titlist in Dubai, beat fellow 31-year-old Nikolay Davydenko of Russia for the 19th time in 21 meetings, 6-2, 6-2 in 54 minutes, to conclude play on day four. Federer is now 37-4 at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament and goes onto face third-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals. The Swiss is bidding to win his 77th singles title this week.

“I was very happy, it was a good match for me,” said Federer. “I served well from the start. Then, also, I thought I had good timing on the return in particular after missing a lot of returns in the first match [versus Malek Jaziri]. And the second match, obviously, he was serving bigger, [Marcel] Granollers. Today, I thought I was really striking it well, and then [the] virtue of that, was [that I] getting the first strike in and then I was able to control the baseline more.” 

Berdych proved to be too strong for Russian wild card Dmitry Tursunov in a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 63 minutes. It was their eighth meeting (Berdych leads 7-1). “I was just trying to just get better and better with my rhythm on court,” said Berdych. They met last week in the Open 13 semi-finals, at Marseille, with Berdych winning 6-2, 6-1. Karel Novacek is the only Czech player to win the Dubai title (1993-d. Santoro).

“I haven't seen him (Berdych) play much this year,” admitted Federer. “He's obviously a good player. He's got amazing power, one of the strongest guys out there on tour. We'll see tomorrow how it goes. I haven't seen him play at all here this tournament. I need to just focus on my game, I guess.”

Watch Djokovic Interview | Watch del Potro Interview

Watch Federer Interview | Watch Berdych Interview

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