Djokovic fights off Ferrer to set up Monaco semi-final
By Bill Scott Mar 30, 2012, 1:47 GMT
Miami - Novak Djokovic reached the semi-finals of the Miami Masters on Thursday with a fighting 6-2, 7-6 (7-1) defeat of scrambling Spaniard David Ferrer.
The Serb world number 1 swept through the opening set but needed well over an hour in the second to secure victory.
Djokovic will line up against surprise semi-finalist Juan Monaco, as the Argentine celebrated his 28th birthday with a defeat of American eighth seed Mardy Fish 6-1, 6-3. Djokovic has beaten Monaco in four of their previous meetings, all at Grand Slams.
Top seeded Djokovic finished with a flourish after failing to serve out a straight-set victory against Ferrer.
The Spaniard broke trailing 4-5 after he won a 40-shot rally in which a Djokovic shot clipped the top of the net as the Serb failed to hold and Ferrer climbed to five games apiece. As the set went to a tiebreaker, Djokovic stepped up a gear, racing away with the decider and finishing with a winner to the corner.
The win lifted Djokovic to 7-2 over Ferrer. 'It's always tough against David. He's an all-round great competitor on any surface.
'All credit to him, he got back into the match in the second set. I didn't want a third set, but I knew I'd have to overcome a guy who fights to the last point. After I failed to serve it out, I just wanted to get to the tiebreaker.'
Monaco was unchallenged by Fish, who has a poor season despite cracking a Top 10 ranking.
'I think this is the way to celebrate my birthday, playing like this,' said Monaco.
In women's play, Maria Sharapova will bid for her first title of the season after claiming a roller-coaster victory over Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
She will take on either French seventh seed Marion Bartoli of fifth-seeded Pole Agnieszska Radwanska.
Sharapova has lost twice in 2012 in title matches, losing both times (Australian Open and this month at Indian Wells) to Victoria Azarenka. Sharapova will be playing her fourth final at Miami, but has never lifted the trophy.
The 24-year-old Russian took more than two hours to claim her struggling victory, ending with 50 winners and 46 unforced errors.
'I started off so well but I had a concentration drop,' said three-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova. 'She started playing much better. I was just happy to get to the third set today.
'We both fought hard for more than two hours. I didn't want the match to end this way, but I'm glad to get to the final.'
The match was decided on a controversial call, with a Sharapova serve called out by the linesman but over-ruled from the chair. With Wozniacki out for challenges, the call - replays showed the serve was good - stood to ensure victory.
'I just kept fighting and just kept playing for every point,' said Wozniacki. 'Maria started off really well and played aggressively. She played some good tennis out there.
'I tried to do my best, and it just wasn't enough today. I was very close. This is tennis - one time you win; one time you lose.'
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