On a predictable day at the eighth ATP 1000 event of the year, top seed and defending champion Roger Federer, three time champion Novak Djokovic, fourth seeded Alexander Zverev and 11th seeded Borna Coric advanced to the last four in straight sets on Friday. Zverev also qualified for the second consecutive year for the WTF in London, joining Federer, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro.
In the opening match of the day, the fourth seeded converted on both the break point chances to break his opponent Kyle Edmund of Brittain once in each set to advance with a 6-4,6-4 win. Zverev won in one hour and ten minute and faced only one break point in the whole match. The German sensation is now in sole possession of the maximum number of wins in 2018 on the ATP tour with 49 wins, surpassing the Austrian Dominic Thiem who has won 48 matches this year .
The three time Shanghai champion Novak Djokovic, a winner in 2012, 2013 and 2015, survived 16 aces from the South African Kevin Anderson as he advanced with a 7-6(1),6-3 win in one hour and forty four minutes. Djokovic saved the only break point he faced, and got the lone break of serve in the entire match in the fourth game of the second set.
He also won 85% points on his first serve in the match against the seventh seeded Anderson who is bidding to qualify for the season ending finale in London for the first time in his career. The Serb also extended his match winning streak to 16 which included the Masters title in Cincinnati, which also makes him the only player in tennis history to claim all nine Master’s 1000 titles atleast once, and a third U.S. Open title in New York at the U.S. Open.
The eleventh seeded Borna Coric of Croatia has entered his second Master’s semi final of the year after beating the Australian Matthew Ebden 7-5,6-4 in one hour and thirty two minutes. Coric, who will spearhead Croatia in the Davis Cup final against France next month had reached the last four in Indian Wells in March this year (loss to Federer).
He got the second break in the eleventh game of the opening set and then served our the set 7-5. Coric then got two breaks of service in the second set, but the gallant Aussie got one break back before Coric won in the 10th game of the second set.
In what was the most eagerly awaited match of the day, the top seeded Roger Federer took on the London hopefull Kei Nishikori in the final match of the day. In a lengthy opening game the Swiss got the break of serve courtesy of a lucky net cord on his sixth break point. Federer, who had needed three sets in his two previous matches against the Russian Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain looked set for an easy win as he broke in the opening game of the second set.
Nishikori though fought back gallantly as he broke serve in the sixth game to level at 3-3. It went to a tie-break where Nishikori took a 4-1 lead, but the 2014 and 2017 champion responded by taking the next six points to claim the win 6-4,7-6(4) in one hour and fifty two minutes. Federer is looking for his 28th Masters series title and going for his 99th career title.
Following is the semi final line up with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (2) (43-10) v. Alexander Zverev (4) (49-15) ; Zverev leads 1-0
Roger Federer (1) (39-6) v. Borna Coric (11) (35-17).
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]