Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerNovak Djokovic (SRB)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Novak Djokovic set up a semifinal showdown with Andy Murray at the Olympic Tennis Event by soundly beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 61 75 on Thursday. Aside from a minor blip at the start of the second set, the world No. 2 was always in control as he pushed and pulled Tsonga all over Centre Court on a breezy day at Wimbledon.
The opening match of the day on Centre Court - Victoria Azarenka versus Angelique Kerber - had been played indoors, but as the clouds parted so did the roof to reveal blustery conditions inside the famous old stadium.
Djokovic began brightly and quickly opened up a 3-0 lead. He kept his foot on the gas when Tsonga tried to mount a fight-back and decisively claimed a second break, allowing him to serve out the first set 6-1 in 32 minutes.
Desperate to get off to a better start in the second set, Tsonga dug deep and broke Djokovic’s opening service game, helped out by a generous forehand from the Serb when he netted with the court at his mercy. The Frenchman couldn’t sustain it, however, and Djokovic lifted his game to draw level.
The set continued on serve until 5-5 when Tsonga found himself with the balls in his hand at 15-40. He fired a 200 km/h ace down the middle to save the first break point, but Djokovic immediately responded by crafting a majestic point in which he finished by pushing a forehand volley into the open court with Tsonga flailing.
There was no way back for Tsonga now. Despite best efforts to rouse him from the Centre Court crowd, who had taken the charismatic Frenchman to heart, Djokovic was relentless and he efficiently held serve to record a 61 75 victory in 1 hour 20 minutes.
"Very satisfied with my game today," said Djokovic. "I was very sharp, very aggressive from the start. I knew what I wanted to do. I was aware of his powerful serve and groundstrokes, his quality as a player, the history that he had here in Wimbledon. I needed to start off well, and I did. Then I was growing in confidence.
"It was very windy," he added. "I think it was the windiest day I've played here in London in recent years. Obviously the court itself is different from Wimbledon. There's a lot of holes, a lack of grass, especially around baseline, but it's the same for both opponents. I'm really satisfied that I managed to find a way to play well."
The stage is now set for Djokovic and Murray in the semifinals. The pair have played each other 13 times and the Serb leads the series 8-5, although surprisingly this will be their first meeting on grass. The Brit advanced to the last four with a 64 61 win over Spain's Nicolas Almagro.
"We both have been playing really well and making good results in Wimbledon in last five years. I don't think it (grass) goes to anybody's advantage," said Djokovic, looking ahead to his clash with Murray.
"Definitely he's been playing well and he's going to have a big support from the crowd. That's something that is expected. He's been I think as close as ever to win his first Grand Slam trophy just a couple weeks ago, so he's motivated as much as I am to win the match."
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