On an eventful day at the Montreal ATP 1000 for the Roger’ Cup, World number One Novak Djokovic saved two match points against Latvia’s Ernest Gulbis and more astonishingly Frenchman Jeremy Chardy saved seven match points against the American John Isner to set up a semi-final clash on Saturday. In complete contrast, the two supposedly marquee match ups were virtually a walk in the park for Japan’s Kei Nishikori who defeated the three time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time in his career, while Scotland’s Andy Murray avenged his quarter-final loss last year as he put out the defending champion Jo Wilfred Tsonga.
Rain delayed the start of the opening match of the day between Isner and Chardy, and not for the first time in Isner’s career, all three sets were decided by a tie-break. Isner saved a set point in the first set and clinched the tie-break on his fourth set point. He then broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set and held for a 3-1 lead when rain interrupted play for an hour. Chardy then won three straight games and the inevitable tie-break followed.
It lasted all of 19 minutes with Chardy saving match points at 5-6,6-7,7-8,8-9,9-10 and 11-12 before leveling the match on his fourth set point. He saved two more match points at 5-6 down in the third set and made it four wins out of four against Isner. The American fired 32 aces but struggled with a left knee injury and even had the trainer out in the third set. The final score was 6-7(9),7-6(13),7-6(4).
Novak Djokovic was playing an opponent who had lost 12 first round matches this year and had to come through the qualifiers. Gulbis had two match points in the second set tie-break before the Serb turned things around to claim his 29th consecutive match at an ATP 1000 event. His last defeat came at Shanghai against Roger Federer in October 2014. Djokovic has won this title, previously, in 2007,2011 and 2012. He won all four Super Series title he played this year at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome. He missed the Madrid event on clay. He also won his fifth Australian Open title in Melbourne and his third Wimbledon crown in July.
In the night session, where play starter after being delayed by around three hours, Kei Nishikori recorded his first career win over the 2005, 2008 and 2013 champion Rafael Nadal as he beat the Spaniard 6-2,6-4 in just 82 minutes. It was Nishikori’s 46th match win for the year and he broke Nadal’s serve four times and lost his own serve only once. Nishikori won last week at the Citi Open and is now the player to beat at Montreal.
The Japanese No.1 next faces the 2009 and 2010 champion Andy Murray who won the last match of the evening 6-4,6-4 against the Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga and in the process became only the second player after Djokovic to qualify for the season ending Barclay’s ATP World Tour Final in London at the O2 arena in November 15-22. Both players have won three titles this year. Nishikori won Memphis, Barcelona and Washington D.C., while Murray won maiden titles on clay at Munich and Madrid, and then won on the grass courts of Queen’s Club in London.
The line up for the semi-final matches with my picks and there 2015 record alongwith head to head records with my pick mentioned first are as under:-
Novak Djokovic (1) (51-3) v. Jeremy Chardy (-) (18-18) ; Djokovic leads 9-0.
Kei Nishikori (4) (46-9) v. Andy Murray (2) (51-8); Murray leads 4-1.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]