Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray joined six-time winner Roger Federer in the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals.
Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, overcame the big serve of Tomas Berdych yesterday to move into his third semifinal at the season-ending championships.
Djokovic, the 2008 champion from Serbia, beat the fifth-seeded Czech 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) at London’s O2 arena. He swept his three round-robin matches to claim the top spot in Group A.
“It’s the first time I’ve won all my group matches,” the 25-year-old Djokovic said. “It’s a great confidence boost for me.”
The season-ending event splits the top eight singles players and doubles pairs into groups of four. The top two in each group reach the single-elimination semifinals tomorrow, with the final on Nov. 12.
An ace out wide handed Murray of Britain a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) win against France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray said in a court-side interview that he knew he only had to win one set to advance.
“Jo came out with some unbelievable shots,” Murray said about last year’s runner-up, who lost all three matches this week. “He played really well at the end.”
Federer of Switzerland, who qualified for the semifinals two days ago, faces former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in the last day of round-robin play today in Group B.
Spain’s David Ferrer, who has won an ATP World Tour-leading seven tournaments this season and is in second place in Group B, meets Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic in the evening session.
The 6-foot-5 (196-centimeter) Berdych was broken twice in the first set by Djokovic, the ball frequently placed back straight at his feet despite speeds of around 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour).
Djokovic is one of the best returners in the men’s game, ranking first on the Tour by winning 56 percent of points returning second serve. He was also second in return games won, break points converted and points won returning first serve.
Djokovic, who will end the season as the world’s top-ranked player for the second consecutive year, seemed to be on his way to a quick win when he broke at the start of the second set. Berdych started to play more aggressively and forced a tiebreaker.
A drop volley that landed on the line handed Berdych a mini-break, from which he took a 5-2 lead. Faced with three set points at 6-3 down, Djokovic applied pressure and forced Berdych into mistakes. An unreturnable serve gave Djokovic his 11th win in 12 career meetings between the two.
“I had some chances in the tiebreak,” Berdych said in a news conference. “If I would be able to make it, try to push him for the third set, then maybe I get another chance. It didn’t happen.”