MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Defending champion and World No 1 Novak Djokovic struggled with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury to beat fifth-ranked David Ferrer 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Wednesday night to complete the Australian Open semifinal picture. This is 4th time that Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray comprise the final four at a major. They did so at the 2008 US Open, the 2011 French Open, the 2011 US Open and now the 2012 Australian Open.
Leading in the second set at 2-1, Djokovic stretched chasing a ball with break point against him. The Serbian grabbed his left leg and winced in pain. Play continued and Djokovic and Ferrer went to a second set tiebreak. The Spaniard battled to a 4-2 lead, they Djokovic rattled off five straight point to take the tiebreak and the set.
â€œWell, luckily for me it wasn’t something that stayed there for long time,â€ Djokovic said of his injury.Â â€œIt was just a, you know, sudden pain.â€
â€œBut, look, you could expect before coming to this match that it’s going to be very physical.Â David makes you run, makes you play an extra shot, makes you earn your points.
â€œYou know, I think I was hitting the ball really well from the baseline.Â He had his times in the match where he was playing really well.Â I think, you know, my serve could have been a little bit better.Â But overall it was a great performance.â€
â€œI did a good game,â€ said Ferrer.Â â€œI had my chance in the second set, in the tiebreak maybe with 5â€‘4.Â But when I lost the second set, and the third set he plays better than me, I was a little bit tired.
â€œBut I am happy with my game.â€
Although walking with a slight limp, Djokovic surged to a 3-0 lead in the third set and never looked back.
Djokovic spoke about the â€œbig fourâ€ making it to the semis again at a major.
â€œIt became more common nowadays, as you mentioned, whatever, last four or five Grand Slams is us playing in semifinals.Â People don’t realize how difficult that is.Â It’s not easy to get to the semifinals, even though we’re expected to.Â There’s a lot of competitive players out there, a lot of players who are very motivated to win against all of us.
â€œSo I guess that makes us a success even bigger.Â We have this probably mental strength and advantage.Â You know, we have that selfâ€‘belief on the court, playing in the finals of the majors for several times, winning some majors, especially Roger and Rafa.
It’s just a different approach, a different feel about being on the center stage when you’re playing somebody that hasn’t had that experience.Â So that counts, let’s say, as your advantage.â€
Ferrer ranked No. 5 in the world was asked about if the gap can be closed on the top four, â€œNo, I don’t think so,â€ said the Spaniard.Â â€œBecause the last year, the top four players plays all the finals in the Grand Slams.Â They were there in the final rounds.Â And this year they are doing again, so…I think the top four, it’s another level.â€
Djokovic will play Andy Murray in a semifinal on Friday night. â€œWell, it’s a new year, you know, new challenges for all of us.Â He’s got Ivan Lendl now on his side.Â He’s made some changes,â€ Djokovic said.
â€œBut, you know, he looks fit.Â He’s been playing well.Â He’s definitely, you know, I think very motivated to win his first Grand Slam.Â He’s been playing last two years finals here.Â He’s been proving to himself and to the rest of the people that the Australian Open is probably his best Grand Slam.
â€œBut on the other hand I have been playing quite well here in last couple years.Â You know, we have to expect a great match.Â You know, a tournament cannot ask for better matchups in semifinals.Â I hope that I can step out on the court trying to repeat the same thing I did last year.
â€œBut it’s definitely going to take a lot of effort to be a winner from that match.â€
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News