French Open: Djokovic sails over Berdych to hit semifinal

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his men's fourth round match against Spain's Roberto Bautista at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open in Paris on June 1, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ

Novak Djokovic defeated Thomas Berdych to qualify for the semifinals of the French Open…yesterday. PHOTOS: AFP

World number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, booked his place in the semifinals of the on-going French Open with a straight set victory over Thomas Berdych. The match had a moment of drama after Berdych survived a break point and struggled to win the sixth game of the third set, leveling games at three-apiece. Then, a few drops of rain came down and it was decided to halt play. Djokovic left the court but Berdych expressed disapproval and was vocal in his protest. “A whole huge circus!” Um! He risked a charge of verbal profanity.

There was another case of possible sanction. Djokovic lost the point in the sixth game of the third set, and he swung his racket backwards in displeasure and it went off his hand to the back bleachers. Had it struck a line umpire, the world number one would have been penalized with an immediate default the ripples of which were better imagined.

Apart from these two flash points, there was little drama in Djokovic’s straight-set victory over Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic.The first set was a routine affair. An early break of Berdych was sufficient for Djokovic to win 6-3. He served first in the second set, broke Berdych to lead 3-1. He held serve to lead 4-1 when a service return by Berdych sailed over the side line. The sixth game went to Berdych.

In the seventh game, Djokovic fell behind 030 when a forehand drive nipped the net and sailed long. A point later he faced the very first break point of serve in the tournament and his opponent clinched the game. The next five games were won at love by each player. Serving at 5-6, Berdych lost four draught points to concede the second set.

There was a glimmer of hope when Berdych broke Djokovic in the opening game, but his opponent broke right back to level at 1-all. Both players held serves. Berdych had a three-point stretch of points won in the sixth game and despite a double fault, he held to level three all. It was then that few drops of rain moistened the court and the supervisor halted play, to the chagrin of the Czech, who had regained his rhythm. They returned to court in less than six minutes.

On resumption, Djokovic held easily to lead 43 and broke his opponent at love. Serving for the set and match, Djokovic lost the first point but leveled and won the next three points to clinch the game 6-3. He was through to the semifinals.

In the Ladies segment, World Number 1 and tournament top-seed, Serena Williams lost a close first set to Putintseva, in which she committed 24 unforced errors to her opponent’s mere two.

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