Tennis·ROUNDUP

Djokovic extends bid for Golden Slam after resounding quarter-final win

Novak Djokovic is into the medal rounds of the Olympic tennis tournament. The top-ranked Serb rolled past home favourite Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-2, 6-0 to reach the semifinals and extend his bid for a Golden Slam.

Medvedev falls to Carreno Busta, Bencic advances to women's final vs. Vondrousova

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates defeating Japan's Kei Nishikori during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men's singles quarter-final tennis match on Thursday. (Tiziana Fabi/Agence France Presse)

Kei Nishikori thought he was playing well. Then he played Novak Djokovic.

The top-ranked Serb never gave Nishikori a chance in a 6-2, 6-0 rout of the home favourite from Japan to reach the semifinals of the tennis tournament at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

"He was defending amazing today — everything deep — and I was trying to stay with him but I couldn't," Nishikori said. "I thought I was playing OK but my serving was bad today and he was attacking every [time]."

The dominant performance advanced Djokovic into the medal rounds and — more importantly — moved him one step closer to finishing off this segment of his Golden Slam bid.

WATCH | Djokovic advances to Olympic semis:

Djokovic advances to semifinals with victory over Nishikori

3 months ago
1:24
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeats Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-0 in the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020. 1:24

Djokovic — who is in his third Olympic semifinal but has never made it to the gold-medal match — will next face Alexander Zverev of Germany, who beat Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-1.

Bencic, Vondrousova to battle for gold 

In the women's tournament, 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will meet in the gold-medal match.

Bencic beat Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 and Vondrousova — who eliminated Naomi Osaka in the third round — defeated fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1.

Bencic also reached the doubles final with partner Viktorija Golubic.

Medvedev falls to Carreno Busta

The other semifinal will feature Karen Khachanov of ROC against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. Khachanov beat Ugo Humbert of France 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3 and Carreno Busta defeated second-seeded Daniil Medvedev of ROC 6-2, 7-6 (5).

After losing, Medvedev smashed his racket then threw it into the upper deck of the empty Court 1 stands.

"I changed everything I had [clothes]," Medvedev said afterwards. "I wanted to change my skin because I was sweating like I never did before. It was terrible."

'I wanted to change my skin because," says Daniil Medvedev referencing Tokyo's searing temperatures. 'I was sweating like I never did before. It was terrible.' (Mike Segar/Reuters)

On Thursday, the matches started from 3 p.m. after organizers accepted the players' plea to delay the start from the regular 11 am due to the stifling conditions.

The Russian thanked world number one Djokovic for pushing the players' case with the governing body International Tennis Federation.

"Novak is the man, thanks to him. I didn't enjoy the conditions still, but it was much better than playing at 11," Medvedev said with a smile.

Top-ranked serb chasing Golden Slam

Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year, needs the Tokyo Games title and the U.S. Open trophy to become the first man to achieve the Golden Slam.

"The way he's played today, this week and last couple months, it's been amazing," Nishikori said.

As it's been for months, it seems that Djokovic, who has not dropped a set in the tournament, is getting better match by match — so much so that it looks like he's hardly being tested.

"Matches are not getting easier but my level of tennis is getting better and better and and I've done that so many times in my career," Djokovic said. "I'm [the] kind of player that the further the tournament goes the better I'm feeling on the court and that's the case here."

WATCH | Auger-Aliassime reflects on competing at Tokyo Olympics:

Felix Auger-Aliassime reflects on what he learned competing at Tokyo Olympics

3 months ago
3:20
Vivek Jacob sits down with Canadian tennis star Felix Auger-Aliassime about his performance in Tokyo, what he's learned from the experience, and his plans to commit again for Paris in 2024 3:20

There was really only one moment when Djokovic was in slight trouble. It came in the opening game of the second set when Nishikori held a break point. Djokovic responded with a rally that sent Nishikori scrambling from corner to corner before unleashing a forehand cross-court winner that the Nishikori couldn't come close to getting his racket on. That prompted a loud roar from Djokovic

After it was done, Djokovic called it his "best performance" of the tournament.

"Against [a] very good opponent," he said. "I felt like I had an answer for everything he had."

Djokovic then came back out less than two hours later and won in mixed doubles with partner Nina Stojanovic, beating the German pair of Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz 6-1, 6-2 to reach the semifinals in that event, too.

Bencic became the fifth player to reach two finals at the same Olympics since tennis returned to the Games in 1988, joining Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Murray and Nicolas Massu.

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland reacts during her semifinal match at the Tokyo Olympics against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

The results means that Switzerland is guaranteed a tennis medal — two, actually — at a fourth consecutive Olympics after Federer and Stan Wawrinka won gold in doubles in 2008, Federer took silver in singles in 2012 and Martina Hingis and Timea Bacsinszky claimed silver in doubles in 2016.

In men's doubles, an all-Croatian final was set up between the pairings of Marin Cilic-Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic-Mate Pavic.

The women's doubles final will feature Bencic and Golubic against the top-seeded Czech duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. Krejcikova won both the singles and doubles (with Siniakova) titles at this year's French Open.

With files from Reuters

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