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Djokovic continues Serbian onslaught in Paris

Novak Djokovic continued Serbia's French Open surge when he defeated Igor Andreev of Russia in straight sets to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2007 13:49 IST
Emmeline Moore
Emmeline Moore

Novak Djokovic continued Serbia's French Open surge on Wednesday when he defeated Igor Andreev of Russia in straight sets to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

The sixth seed won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours 10 minutes on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old, the youngest player left in the men's draw, will be the fourth Serb to feature in the last four with compatriots Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic already in the semi-finals of the women's singles.

Another Serb Nenad Zimonjic has made it into the semi-final in the men's doubles.

Djokovic is also only the second Serbian man to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final after Slobodan Zivojinovic who made the last four at the 1985 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1986.

"I played really well. I wanted to impose my style of play. It's a sport where things can change very quickly," explained Djokovic, who also beat the Russian in their only previous meeting on clay at Estoril this year.

"The score doesn't show the right picture about the match. He was not easy to play. He's the kind of player that makes you work for the points.

"I knew he could be very dangerous. He's a specialist on clay and beat (Andy) Roddick. It was his first quarter-final and he had nothing to lose."

Andreev has dropped to 125th in the world after missing six months last season following knee surgery.

But despite defeating number three seed Roddick in the first round he failed to settle into his first Grand Slam quarter-final, blaming mental and physical tiredness.

He converted just one of his six break points with Djokovic converting five of his ten.

"Because it was my first experience in a Grand Slam and first time I won four matches in a row it takes a lot physically and mentally. And especially for me since I hadn't played for a long time, it's maybe even harder," he explained.

Djokovic got off to a tentative start by losing his opening service game as both players fought to hold serve in the first set.

But the Serb hit back immediately with a break and got the upper hand with a second in the eighth game as 23-year-old Andreev hit long allowing Djokovic wrap it up 6-3 in 44 minutes.

The Russian was broken in the first game of the second set as Djokovic opened up a comfortable 4-2 advantage, taking the set in 41 minutes with a further break in the ninth game.

Djokovic saved a break point in the opening game of the third set, fooling his opponent with a cross court backhand which had the Russian scurrying in the wrong direction.

The Serb athletically fought every point and despite going 3-0 up drew whistles from the crowd as he vehemently argued a line call on his serve.

Hopes of a fightback were shortlived after Djokovic netted when serving for 4-1 but minutes later converted when Andreev hit wide. The Serb became more aggressive sealing the tie with ease on his first match point.

The Russian paid tribute to the Serb.

"He does everything good. He's defending well. He's serving well on important points. He's a strong guy."

But Djokovic, who has retired from Roland Garros both previous times he played here, faces a tough task if he wants to become the first Serb to reach a Grand Slam final.

He stands 1-3 against potential semi-final opponent Nadal having lost their two meetings on clay including the quarter-finals here last year when he retired with a back injury when trailing the champion 6-4, 6-4.

The Serb stands 1-1 against Moya. Both ties were on clay with the Spaniard winning their most recent meeting in the Hamburg quarter-finals this year.

Djokovic insisted however that he would take heart from his only win against Nadal, albeit on a hard court surface, on his way to winning his first Masters Series title in Miami this year.

"He's (Nadal) really dominant and the best player in the world on this surface. He has the motivation and confidence and physically and mentally he's prepared more than anyone in this tournament, but I beat him in Miami, where I played probably the best match in my life.

"I won against him once so it can help me in this match."

First Published: Jun 07, 2007 13:46 IST