Djokovic blunts Del Potro charge
Bhupathi-Llodra get the better off Bopanna-Ram to enter title round
Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 17 matches by beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in the ATP Dubai Championship semifinals on Friday to stay on track for a potential final with holder Roger Federer.
Djokovic, unbeaten since October in a run that includes a third straight Australian Open title, will now play the winner of the second semifinal between Federer and Czech Tomas Berdych.
The world number one’s all-round game eventually proved too much for a defiant Del Potro.
The Serbian had breezed through the opening three rounds without dropping a set but Del Potro - the only man outside of the men's ‘big four’ to win a Grand Slam since 2005 - was a different prospect.
The former US Open champion squandered a 3-0 second-set lead only to then break back when Djokovic was serving for the match at 5-4 up in the second, with the Argentine forcing a tie-break.
Djokovic ultimately triumphed, a forehand winner from mid-court the only point in the tie-break going against serve.
“His serve is very powerful, his forehand from the back of the court he can do anything with - I needed to stay in it when I was a break down,” Djokovic said in a courtside interview. “I played a poor game when I needed to close it out but he’s a great player, so it was always going to be challenging.”
Hesh-Llodra in final
Mahesh Bhupathi reached the first final of the season with French partner Michael Llodra after overcoming a fighting pair of Rohan Bopanna and Rajeev Ram on Friday in the doubles semifinal at Dubai.
Unseeded Bhupathi and Llodra got past India’s Bopanna and Americam Ram 6-4, 6-7 (2) 10-5 in the first semifinal.
Bhupathi and Llodra now face third seeds Robert Lindstedt and Nenand Zimonjic, who pipped Mikhail Youzhny and Jonathan Erlich 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2).
Nadal in semis
Former world number one Rafael Nadal breezed through to the semifinals of the Mexican Open on Thursday, dispatching Argentine Leonardo Mayer in straight sets 6-1, 7-5.
The second-seeded Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro on Friday. Tournament top-seed and defending champion David Ferrer also reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Italy's Paolo Lorenzi. The Spaniard will next face Italian Fabio Fognini.