Adelaide : Top-seeded Novak Djokovic overcame the staunch resistance from Denis Shapovalov to reach the semi-final of the Adelaide International 1 with a 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final victory, here on Friday.
An entertaining one-hour, 55-minute matchup provided rich entertainment for a vocal Adelaide crowd, which was treated to some ferocious baseline exchanges as Shapovalov went toe-to-toe with the 91-time tour-level titleist Djokovic.
However, the Serbian was more clinical at key moments and three breaks of serve across the two sets were enough for him to complete his 21st victory in his past 22 tour-level matches and set a blockbuster semi-final clash with third seed Daniil Medvedev.
“I actually think that the scoreline maybe doesn’t speak enough today about the matchup. It was very close. One break of serve in the first set, which went very long in terms of time.
He had break points, he had chances,” said Djokovic in his post-match press conference. “Early on he was a better player. He was dictating. Then, you know, I started finding my serve and my groove on the court I just made him play. Just made him play.
I felt maybe he’s a bit nervous. That’s what happens, the change of momentum happens very quickly on this level,” he added. Djokovic entered the quarter-final clash with a 7-0 ATP Head to Head record against the 23-year-old Shapovalov, but the Serbian faced three break points in an intriguing first set during which the Canadian’s big groundstrokes kept him under pressure.
Shapovalov was left to rue not converting those chances, however, as the top-seeded Serbian made no mistake with a break point of his own to move 5-3 ahead before serving out for the set.
The top seed’s combination of tireless defence and penetrating attack appeared to have ground Shapovalov down after he broke for 2-1 in the second, but the Canadian hit back with some sharp returning to level at 3-3.
The World No. 18 could not hold off Djokovic in a marathon ninth game, however, and the Serbian’s third break of the match proved a decisive one. It represented another impressive win for Djokovic in a city where he lifted the title at a previously held ATP Tour event in 2007.
The 35-year-old will be feeling confident as he prepares to take on Medvedev in a heavyweight early-season clash. The Serbian leads 8-4 lead in his ATP Head to Head series with the World No. 7, with his tally including victory in a marathon three-set battle at November’s ATP Finals.
“Hopefully it will be another long night. I don’t think there’s going to be too many short points tomorrow unless we both serve well. Normally when you play Daniil, you have to be ready to go the distance, physically, mentally, game-wise,” said Djokovic of his clash with Medvedev.
“He’s definitely one of the best players in the world for the past five years. He’s established himself as a Grand Slam winner and a No. 1 in the world, so he’s someone I respect a lot. We had some amazing battles over the years and I’m hoping for another good battle tomorrow,” he added.