Djokovic, Federer outclass opponents in Dubai

Djokovic, Federer outclass opponents in Dubai
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Published February 26th, 2015 - 21:41 GMT via

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Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer blew past a pair of hampered opponents on Thursday as three of the leading four seeds reached the semi-finals of the Dubai Classic.

Top seed Djokovic took charge against Turkish surprise packet Marsel Ilhan, winning 6-1, 6-1 as the number one dominated the jittery qualifier who took three massage sideline treatments on his back.

It went even easier for Federer, the second seed, who won in 20 minutes as French opponent Richard Gasquet retired with his back pains trailing 6-1.

Fourth seed Tomas Berdych, losing finalist at the last two editions, came out the winner against Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to remain undefeated against the Ukrainian.

Berdych is off the to best start of his career after a pair of finals and two semi-finals so far in two months but will take his 2-17 record into Friday's semi-final against Djokovic.

Only Andy Murray fell to defeat, with the third seed completely losing his way in a 6-1, 6-3 defeat which sent Croatian teenager Borna Coria into the semi-finals and a date with Federer.

Ilhan, ranked 104, looked to be paralysed by nerves as he played in the biggest match of his career. He steadied briefly to hold two break points against the seed in the second game of the second set.

The challenger ended with 47 unforced errors and the loss of the last six games of the evening.

Djokovic won his tenth match in a row this season as he reached his eighth Dubai semi.

"I've played a couple of good matches here," said the four-time champion. "I'm getting better with each one.

"But playing Tomas next is another match completely. It will be a big challenge for both of us. He's a very consistent player and a solid top 10 competitor."

Federer said that he could tell that something was not right with Gasquet.

"I felt like it happened at 5-1, 30 Love, maybe a score like that," said the Swiss, who ran his hardcourt record against Gasquet to 8-0. "I know enough about the back and I know how horrible it is to play with that and how much worse it can sometimes become.

"If it is back, you know pretty much how bad it is a couple of points right after that. Being down 5-1 in a match like this it's always going to be tough. It's maybe better not to take any chances at this point."

Federer has never played Coric, 18 and ranked 84th. "He seems to really play up when it matters against the better players, today I think it was a great victory," said Federer.

"To beat Murray 6-1, 6-3, it was, it's a great score. It's definitely a message I get."

Coric has his own hopes as he faces the legend. "I have nothing to lose, just literally nothing to lose. I felt (not) so special after I lost in the second round of quallies.

"So, just go on the court, enjoy, learn, see how he's playing. I'm going to try to beat him. I'm not going to go in the match like I'm going to lose, because otherwise I'm going to stay in my room or go home."

Murray admitted he gave himself few chances against Coric, a lucky loser from qualifying rounds.

"I made way too many mistakes from the beginning of the match right through to the end, early in rallies, rushing points," said Murray. "It's disappointing, obviously. "He moved well, made a lot of balls, very few errors. Made it tough."

© 2015 dpa GmbH

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