Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after winning his quarter-final match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at the BNP Paribas 2013 Masters tournament in Paris, France, yesterday. RIGHT: Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns the ball to Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during their quarter-final match.
PARIS: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will play each other for the first time this year after both won their quarter-final ties at the Paris Masters tournament yesterday.
Djokovic swept into the semi-finals with a rapid-fire 6-1, 6-4 win over Stanislas Wawrinka, while Federer came through a second set wobble to edge Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
It will be the 30th meeting between the two, but the first since Djokovic defeated the Swiss great in the ATP World Tour final in London a year ago.
Djokovic, Paris Masters champion in 2009, said that Federer was having a strong finish to what had been a disappointing season.
“Roger is probably experiencing the worst season that he had in last 10 years, but he’s still a player to beat in every tournament, because he’s Roger Federer, because he has won 17 Grand Slams, and we all know how successful a career he has,” the Serb said.
“You cannot underestimate him, although maybe he’s not at the form where he was when he was No. 1 of the world. But I have been watching his matches in Basel last week and here. I think he’s playing really well.”
With Del Potro looking decidedly leg weary from his marathon efforts in recent weeks that have seen him win 15 out of his last 16 matches, Federer was in commanding form from the start.
He broke serve to lead 3-1 and had little difficulty pocketing the first set from there in just 30 minutes, leaving his opponent stranded on the baseline with a succession of deft drop shots.
Del Potro tried hard to make a fist of it at the start of the second set, at one point leaping over the net onto his opponent’s side after failing to chase down another Federer drop shot. The end looked in sight for the South American, but he fought off a series of break points and then summoned up a huge effort in the 10th game to finally take Federer’s serve, levelling the set scores in the process.
Del Potro held firm till he was broken to love in the fifth game of the decider, but once again he got off the floor immediately to level at 3-3.
Federer made it three straight breaks of serve in the next game, however, and the 32-year-old powered on to take another step towards what would be a 22nd career Masters title, and only his second in Paris after that of 2011.
Rafael Nadal made it 12-0 against boyhood rival Richard Gasquet with a 6-4, 6-1 win to reach the semi-finals in the evening match yesterday.
After an early exchange of breaks between the two 27-year-olds charged up a packed Bercy Stadium crowd.
Nadal broke to love again in the seventh game and that was enough to give him the set 6-4 in just 34 minutes.
It was all over in 67 minutes as Nadal reach today’s semi-final stage. AGENCIES