Djokovic brushes aside Struff to reach Western & Southern Open semifinals

Flushing Meadows, New York, Aug 26 (efe-epa).- Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic cruised into the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victory Wednesday afternoon over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

Djokovic struggled with his form and a neck issue in his opening match against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis on Monday and then had some difficulty in the second set of his third-round contest against American Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday.

But the Serbian looked sharp in all areas of the game on Wednesday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the New York City borough of Queens and also benefited from his opponent’s atrocious serving.

Struff won his opening service game but then struggled the rest of the way, with the 17-time Grand Slam champion securing his first service break in the fourth game and going on to take the first set a few games later with a blistering forehand down-the-line winner.

The German double-faulted three times to drop his opening service game of the second set and then fell behind 3-0 when Djokovic executed an impressive half-volley drop volley on break point.

After securing yet another service break for a 5-0 lead, Djokovic appeared to lose concentration en route to losing his serve for the first time in the sixth game.

But he then broke Struff’s serve for the fourth time in the second set to clinch victory in just over an hour.

For the match, the German put just 39 percent of his first serves in play, won only 29 percent of his second-serve points and double-faulted eight times.

With the win, Djokovic reached the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open – a US Open tune-up event normally played outside Cincinnati, Ohio – for the eighth time.

He won his lone title at that hard-court event in 2018, when he became the first player to win all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events over his career.

“It was great. I started a little bit tight in my opening couple of service games. Ever since I made that break at the beginning of the first set, I never looked back,” Djokovic was quoted as saying on the ATP Tour’s website. “I really played very aggressive whenever I had the chance and I was going for my shots.”

Next up for the world No. 1 in Thursday’s semifinals will be Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who shook off a poor first set to beat Russian 2019 US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Greek world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the tournament’s final four when his opponent, big-serving American Reilly Opelka, retired with a knee injury while leading 6-5 in the first set.

Tsitsipas moved past the 2.11-meter (6-foot-11) Opelka after defeating two other opponents who stand at a height of more than two meters: South Africa’s Kevin Anderson and American John Isner.

“The question remains: Am I going to make it to the record books for playing the tallest players on the ATP consecutively, one after the other?” Tsitsipas joked. “I have to check it out. I don’t think it has ever happened before.”

Next up for him in the semifinals will be either Serbian Filip Krajinovic or Canada’s Milos Raonic, neither of whom is two meters tall.

In women’s singles quarterfinal action on Wednesday, the United Kingdom’s Johanna Konta topped Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-3 and will next play Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka, a 7-6 (11-9), 6-2 winner over Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

The other semifinal will pit Belgium’s Elise Mertens, a 6-1, 6-3 winner over American Jessica Pegula, against Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who edged Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

The Western & Southern Open is normally played in Mason, Ohio, but in order to reduce unnecessary travel amid the coronavirus pandemic it is being held this year at the same venue as the US Open, a hard-court Grand Slam event that gets under way on Aug. 31. EFE-EPA


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