Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are only one match away from a mouth watering final match as both progressed on Friday into the Semi-finals in Cincinnati. While the seven time champion Federer played two full matches in one day, Novak Djokovic continued his pursuit of becoming the only player in the history of the game to complete a career Golden Masters as he first completed a rain interrupted third set to oust the defending champion Grigor Dimitrov and then beat Milos Raonic of Canada in three sets to advance.
However they will have their work out on Saturday as Novak Djokovic will look to avenge his defeat that he suffered at the hands of Marin Cilic of Croatia in the final at Queen’s, while Federer will have to be at his best to beat the man who halted his quest for a seventh World Tour Master’s title at the O2 Arena in November 2017. Both players will be better rested than their elder opponents and a 46th career meeting between the two is not a forgone conclusion. Djokovic who is looking for his maiden title in Cincinnati leads the series 23-22 between the two.
The second seeded Federer, looked to be in a hurry to ensure a smooth straight sets win over the Argentine Leonardo Mayer, but after taking the first set 6-1, the 20 time grand slam champion was extended by the spirited Mayer who held his own to force a tie-break and then erased a 1-5 deficit in the tie-break before Federer averted a possible disaster as he won on his second match point 6-1,7-6(6). In the quarter finals, Federer survived another scare as he battled from the brink of elimination to beat fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-7(2),7-6(8),6-2. The 2016 U.S. Open champion was also doing double duty like Federer as he beat the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-4,6-3.
In what turned out to be the most exciting match of the day, Federer improved to a 21-3 record against Wawrinka but was within two points of losing the match and his fifteen match winning streak against Wawrinka, a three time grand slam champion whose ranking has fallen to 151 and is only 11-13 in 2018. Wawrinka took the first set tie-break easily 7-2, but in a tense second set tie-break Federer finally forced the decider on his third set point as Wawrinka blasted a backhand wide on Federer’s third set point. Lightning briefly suspended the match after the second set, but when they resumed, Federer broke for the first time on his eighth opportunity to lead 4-2, and a break to love sealed his eighth appearance in the Semi-final in Cincinnati.
The Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia, saw off the defending champion Grigor Dimitrov 2-6,6-3,6-4 as he completed their match on early Friday morning, and then beat the big serving Milos Raonic of Canada 7-5,4-6,6-3 in two hours and twenty nine minutes on a busy day as many players played two matches to get the schedule back on track at the seventh Master’s series 1000 event of the year.
That proved to be too much for the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, seeded fourth, who first beat the temparemental Aussie Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4),6-7(6),6-2 where the Aussie clearly showed his dislike for Del Potro taking a nine minute time out after losing second set tie-break. The Argentine, who has risen to a career high no. 3 in the rankings. The eleventh seeded Goffin was a 7-6(5),7-6(4) winner as he improves to a 2-1 head to head record against Del Potro.
[8/18, 1:17 AM] Rasesh Mehta: The line up is completed by the 2016 champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, who first beat the Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6(5),3-6,6-4, resuming his rain interrupted match from Thursday. He then beat the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(7),6-4.
The following is the line up on Saturday in the last four with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (10) (31-10) v. Marin Cillic (7) (33-11) ; Djokovic leads the series 14-2
Roger Federer (2) (32-4) v. David Goffin (11) (27-13) ; Federer leads the series 6-1.