World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 4 Andy Murray advanced to the finals at the 2011 Western & Southern Open in a rematch of the ’08 final, which the Scot won 7-6(4), 7-6(5). For the women, the No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova faces former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
Recent Montreal champion Djokovic took out Tomas Berdych, the victor over 16-time Grand Slam tournament champion Roger Federer on Friday, when the World No. 9 retired due to injury. The Serb claimed the first set 7-5.
Djokovic is a two-time Cincinnati finalist in ’09 and ’08. Earlier this year, he claimed the Australian Open title, beating Murray 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Djokovic also defeated World No. 2 Rafael Nadal to take his third Grand Slam tournament title at Wimbledon.
The only man to claim five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in one season, he’s currently enjoying a 57-1 record in 2011. Djokovic’s only loss this year came at the French Open semifinals to four-time Cincinnati champion Roger Federer.
The Serb now holds a perfect 33-0 record on hard courts in 2011.
In the first semifinal played Saturday to a packed crowd on Center Court, Murray took out top-ranked American Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-6(3).
For Murray, a three-time Grand Slam tournament finalist, the win constitutes his first over Fish in their last three matches, including a meeting in the Cincinnati quarterfinals last year.
In the women's semifinals, Sharapova took out World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. With Sharapova into the final, there will be a Russian finalist in Cincinnati for the seventh time in eight years.
Meanwhile, '09 Cincinnati champion Jankovic took out World No. 11 Petkovic of Germany, who defeated her twice this year at Stuttgart and Miami with both matches decided in three sets. This time around, however, Jankovic pulled off the victory in straight sets, winning 7-6(4), 6-1.
Having known each other since juniors training in Florida, Sharapova and Jankovic seem excited to face one another in Sunday’s final.
"It's going to be a tough match," said Jankovic. "I feel pretty good the way I played tonight. Hopefully I can play like that tomorrow. I just want to try my best. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully I can, you know, win, you know, my second title here. That's my goal," said Jankovic.
For Sharapova, the chance to compete in the Cincinnati final again is something she’s been looking forward to. "I came here wanting to play a lot of matches, to be in the final. To give myself another chance to get the title is great," she said.
By Benjamin Snyder