MASON – For the second time in tournament history and the 13th time in the last 25 years on the ATP World Tour, the top four ranked players in the world are through to the semifinals of a tournament. Novak Djokovic
, the No. 4 player in the world, reached his second straight semifinal at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters with a 6-4 7-5 win over No. 9 Gilles Simon
For the second year in a row, Djokovic will face No. 3 Rafael Nadal
, who advanced past unseeded Tomas Berdych
6-4 7-5 on Friday night.
Those two join World No. 1 Roger Federer
and No. 2 Andy Murray
in the semifinals after the top two won earlier on Friday. Read More
Friday’s quarterfinal against Simon was a relatively straightforward affair for Djokovic.
In the opening set, Djokovic never faced a break point, and managed to break his French foe in the 10th game to claim the set.
Djokovic struggled on his serve in the fifth game of the second set, getting broken to love after ending the game with a double fault.
He rebounded quickly, however, and immediately got the break back before closing the match with a break in the 12th game of the set.
”I was quite nervous because I was aware of the fact that he's gonna make me run a lot and I'm gonna have to make the points by myself,” Djokovic said. “I knew that there's gonna be a lot of unforced errors and winners as well, so I just tried to remain focused all the time, and made the crucial breaks in the first and second set in the end.”
Like Djokovic, Nadal has yet to drop a set in the 2009 tournament. He did not face a break point in his win over Berdych on Friday night.
"Very, very good news being in the semifinals," Nadal said. "When I arrived here, I didn't expect to be in this round, so very happy. Anything can happen right now, because my tournament is very good for me."
Djokovic has history on his side in the semifinal match at 7 p.m. Saturday.
While Nadal owns a 14-4 edge in their all-time meetings, Djokovic’s last win came last year in Cincinnati’s semifinals. Djokovic leads the series 4-3 in meetings on hard courts.
This will be just the third time in 25 years the top four ranked players have reached a tournament’s semifinals at an event outside of the year-end championships or a grand slam. The last such occurrence came in 2008 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo.
This is the second time in Cincinnati that the top four players in the world have reached the semifinals. It also happened in 1999 when Pete Sampras
(1), Yvgeny Kafelnikov
(2), Andre Agassi
(3) and Pat Rafter
(4) were the semifinalists.