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Djokovic sails past Berdych into semis

ESPN staff
November 9, 2012 « Klitschko at weight disadvantage for Wach | Chartbeat test »
Novak Djokovic is into the ATP World Tour Finals semi-finals © PA Photos
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Novak Djokovic joined Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals with a straight-sets victory over Tomas Berdych.

The world No. 1 fended off a spirited fightback by Berdych to seal a 6-2 7-6(6) victory at London's O2 Arena.

Having already beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray in his opening two round-robin matches, Djokovic could afford to lose and, providing he won a set, still progress.

However, Djokovic refused to take his foot off the gas, and after powering through the opening set to secure his place in the last four, he held firm to deny a valiant comeback from Berdych, who battled back from a break down to force a second-set tiebreak.

Berdych, who had kept his hopes of qualification alive with victory over Tsonga on Wednesday, soon found himself in trouble after a cross-court forehand from Djokovic handed the Serb three break points.

Three big serves saw the Czech dig himself out of a hole, but he was soon under pressure once again and, when his forehand sailed long, Djokovic grabbed an early break before streaking to a 5-1 lead.

Berdych stopped the rot to force the top seed to serve out the set, but the Serb was in no mood to hang around as he wrapped up the opener inside 33 minutes. With his place in the semi-finals secure, Djokovic tightened his grip with an early break in the second set - a blistering forehand return leaving the world No. 6 rooted to the baseline.

Just as he looked to be firmly on course for victory, Djokovic inexplicably appeared to take his foot off the gas, and allowed his opponent to break back. Berdych, whose first serve had looked shaky in the opening set, was more assured in the second, his accuracy improving from 48 per cent to 60.

But Berdych had only beaten Djokovic once in 11 previous meetings, and despite racing to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak, he showed signs of hesitation as he allowed Djokovic back in, and the Serb needed no second invitation as he wrapped up the victory in an hour and 37 minutes.

Djokovic finished top of Group A ahead of Murray, who defeated Tsonga in straight sets to join the Serb in the last four.

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