Published August 12, 2011
MONTREAL – While other top players have fallen, top-ranked Novak Djokovic keeps rolling along at the Rogers Cup.
The world's No. 1-ranked player from Serbia needed just 1 hour, 13 minutes to beat fifth-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-2, 6-1 on Friday night to advance to the semifinals of the Master Series tournament.
The 2007 Rogers Cup champion will face another Frenchman, 13th seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who ousted No. 8 seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4, 6-4.
"I have played the best match of the tournament, no doubt," said the 24-year-old Djokovic, who is now 15-1 against top-10 players this year. "Everything was going well. I'm happy to see my game is progressing each day."
In recent days, star players Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray suffered upsets, but Djokovic looks to be getting stronger each day as he used his overpowering forehand to improve his 2011 match record to 51-1 before a full house at Uniprix Stadium.
Djokovic is now 7-0 in his career against Monfils, but it's a different story with Tsonga, who holds a 5-3 edge in their head-to-head meetings. Their last matchup was at Djokovic's last tournament, Wimbledon, where he edged the hard-serving Frenchman in four tough sets.
"The last match was very close, very intense, very important for both of us," Djokovic said. "He's been playing better in last couple of months. He has increased his level. He has a big serve. If he serves well, he can beat anybody. ... It's a fast surface. I need to return well and hope that I can get some chances."
Djokovic is now in range of a record fifth ATP Masters 1000 win in a single year.
American Mardy Fish also advanced, surviving an error-filled second set to defeat 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-0. There was another upset, though, as unseeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia ousted seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4 for his third victory in three meetings with the Czech player.
Fish, who has beaten Tipsarevic three times in their four meetings, cruised through the final set to reach his fifth tournament semifinal of the year. It's a big improvement for Fish at the Rogers Cup, where he didn't win a match in previous visits in 2003 and 2008.
"It's certainly nice to play on those courts because they are pretty quick, and they do suit my game very well," Fish said. "I can kind of get away with not playing great tennis but still winning."
The 29-year-old Fish, whose career turned around after knee surgery and a new dedication to fitness two years ago, has won 10 of his last 11 matches, including a win last month in Atlanta and a loss in the final at Los Angeles two weeks ago.
"Mardy is a really intelligent player," Tipsarevic said. "He's a typical example of an all around player that can defend, stay back, be passive, but then go to the net, play serve and volley and completely mix up the game."
It will be a first trip to the semifinals of a Masters Series event for the 27-year-old Tipsarevic, whose performance this week will also put him into the top 20 of the world rankings for the first time. Tipsarevic is currently ranked 24th.
"It means a lot it was a goal," Tipsarevic said of his improved ranking. "My goals this season were to finish the year top 20 and to win an ATP title.
"The second thing didn't happen for me yet, even though I was close already two times this year (losing finals at Del Ray beach, Fla., and at Eastbourne). I'm happy that the first thing is happening."
Fish has already passed Andy Roddick as the top-ranked American player, a status he will almost certainly take into the U.S. Open, which begins in two weeks.
"But (Roddick) went into the U.S. Open as the leading American for 10 straight years, so just because I go in one year ... you know what I mean?" Fish said. "I've got too much respect for him.
"He's handled the brunt of all the questions and all the media and all the pressure his entire career, and I haven't at all. So I'm just hoping to take a little bit away from him."
Tsonga said he was short on energy after the Federer win, so he concentrated on his booming serve and strong returns to avoid long, tiring baseline rallies with Almagro. Their match was delayed 10 minutes early in the first set when a spectator needed medical assistance.