The ultimate showman in the sport, Frenchman Gael Monfils extended his winning streak to nine as he refused to fold against the home favourite Milos Raonic to advance 6-4, 6-4 in the packed night session at the Aviva Center in Toronto. He next faces the top seed and three time champion Novak Djokovic who saved three set points in the first set tie-break against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6(6), 6-4.
The winner of last weeks Washington Citi Open, his first ever ATP 500 title, Monfils broke serve once in each set in a match lasting one hour and twelve minutes. The big serving Raonic who lost the Wimbledon final to Andy Murray earlier this month could not convert on all four break points. Raonic served 74% first serves in the match but could only match seven aces for Monfils, who served only 59% first serves.
Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 12 against Berdych who could only convert on one out of the eight break point opportunities in the two hour encounter. Berdych had three set points in the first set tie break at 6-3, but he double faulted and lost the last five points to loose it 6-8. The Serb broke serve in the third game of the second set which he claimed 6-4.
It will be Djokovic’s fifth semi final at an ATP 1000 event this year. His only losses at the Masters level, coming in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters (loss to Jiri Vesley) and the Italian Open final (loss to Andy Murray).
In the first match of the day Stanislas Wawrinka opened up a 4-0 lead over Kevin Anderson, in the first set and then broke serve for the third time to seal the first set 6-1. In what he described as one of the best matches he played this year he broke serve in the eight game of the second set to win 6-1, 6-3 in 74 minutes. He will attempt to reach his fourth Masters final and next faces Kei Nishikori of Japan in the first semi final on Saturday.
The third seeded Nishikori survived a three setter against the somewhat resurgent Grigor Dmitrov of Bulgaria winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Nishikori broke serve twice in the first set and Dmitrov did the same in the second set to force a decider. In the second set Nishikori failed to take advantage of five break points but quickly recovered as he reeled five consecutive games to go 5-1 up in the third set.
He then closed out the match comfortably to win the decider 6-2. Nishikori will aim to reach his third Masters final of his career having lost to Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open in 2014 and then to Djokovic in Miami this year.
The following is the line up for last four with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Gael Monfils (10) ; Djokovic leads 11-0
Stanislas Wawrinka (2) v. Kei Nishikori (3); Wawrinka leads 3-1
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]