Surging Novak Djokovic cruises to win at BNP Paribas Open
Top-ranked player extends win streak to 22 with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 54 minutes on Friday.
Juan Martin del Potro had to go the distance to upset No. 3 seed Andy Murray 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1 for the first time in five tries on hard courts and will play Djokovic next. The Argentine has lost to Djokovic eight times in 10 meetings.
No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki outlasted fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a 2 1/2-hour semifinal that included 14 service breaks, including seven in the final set. Wozniacki, who won here in 2011, will play either No. 2 Maria Sharapova or No. 13 Maria Kirilenko, who met later.
Djokovic extended his winning streak to 22 matches dating to Oct. 31, when he last lost to American Sam Querrey in Paris. The Serb is 17-0 this year, including two titles.
"When it was important, I didn't allow him to come back to the match. I didn't allow him to have an opportunity to believe that he can maybe have a break back and get back into the match," Djokovic said about Tsonga. "That was very important for me to stay mentally committed throughout the whole match."
Djokovic broke Tsonga four times and served out the match with his fourth 40-love game in the second set.
"Jo didn't play his best," Djokovic said. "He made a lot of unforced errors and his serve wasn't going well so it made my life easier on the court."
Tsonga fell to 0-11 against Top-5 opponents since beating then-No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal in November 2011.
"I did a lot of mistakes, was tough for me to keep the ball in the court," Tsonga said. "It was a day for me without sensation. Everything I tried to do, I missed it."
Against Del Potro, Murray double-faulted for the eighth time to end the 2 1/2-hour match, missing with his second serve down the middle to get broken for the third time in the set and fifth in the match. He was playing his first tournament since losing the Australian Open final to Jokovic in late January.
"It was a tough match. There was a lot of long rallies," he said. "It's very warm conditions the first set or two, and sometimes on the serve if your legs are just a little bit tired you can miss serves. Just timing might go a little bit off and you're not quite getting up to them. That's maybe what happened."
Del Potro hadn't dropped a set in the tournament until he lost the tiebreaker 7-5 on an errant forehand. He's reached at least the quarterfinals in four of five events this year.
"He played like someone that's won a lot of matches recently," Murray said. "Especially in the second and third set when the important moments came, he played well."
Del Potro considers his wrist nearly 100 percent recovered from the 2010 injury that knocked him off the tour after he won the 2009 U.S. Open. "I played my best match of the tournament. I was positive all the time, even when I lost the first set, tough first set," he said. "I be aggressive all the time, I'm hitting all the time hard the ball with my forehands, and I play a few slices as well and drop shots."