Rome, Italy (4E Sports) – World No. 2 Novak Djokovic survived a tough challenge from David Ferrer to reach the semifinal of the Italian Masters via a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
“It was the most physical match I had on clay this year,” said Djokovic. “I am really glad to overcome this challenge because David is a great competitor. I respect him a lot.”
Djokovic will attempt to reach the final for the fifth time when he takes on Milos Raonic in Saturday’s semifinals. The Serb won his one previous contest with Raonic, on clay in Davis Cup action last year.
The 26-year-old Djokovic edged Ferrer in two hours and 32 minutes, improving his rcord to 12-6 lead in their head-to-head showdown. The Serb was broken as he served for the first set at 5-3, but broke Ferrer in the 12th game to clinch the opener.
Meanwhile, Raonic advanced to his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal as he defeated Jeremy Chardy, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
Raonic was broken for the first time in the tournament as he surrendered a break advantage in the second set, sparking a fightback for Chardy, who recorded the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in the second round.
Raonic responded strongly, though, breaking the Frenchman twice in the final set to claim victory in just over two hours, improving to a 5-0 lead in their head-to-head series.
Grigor Dimitrov made it a very happy 23rd birthday as he reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal.
In a clash between the youngest and oldest players in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, Dimitrov won the first set 6-2 against Tommy Haas before the 36-year-old German was forced to retire with a right shoulder injury.
Dimitrov could break into the Top 10 for the first time if he wins the title and hopes that Raonic doesn’t reach the final. In Saturday’s semifinal, he will face either World No. 1 Nadal or Andy Murray.
On the women’s side, reigning champion Serena Williams advanced to the semifinal after beating Zhang Shuai, 6-1, 6-3.
For a spot in the final, Williams will take on former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, who defeated 13th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Sara Errani shocked second seed Li Na, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, to book a semifinal spot against Jelena Jankovic, who edged Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-4.