Rogers Cup Day 05: Djokovic, Chardy Save Match Points to Set Semifinal Clash
By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin
(August 14, 2015) MONTREAL, Canada – Both Novak Djokovic and surprising Frenchman Jeremy Chardy had to manage Houdini-esque escapes on Friday to reach the semifinals. While the world No. 1 saved two match points against former-top-10-player-now-qualifier Ernest Gulbis, Chardy saved an astonishing seven match points against big serving John Isner.
Isner and Chardy were the first on court, about two hours late due to afternoon rain. It was clear from the start that not much was separating the two: Isner is having a spectacular summer with a title in Atlanta and a final in Washington, while Chardy boasted a surprising 3-0 record against the American. Without much of a surprise, both players held serve until the tiebreak, where Isner was the first to draw blood. Chardy fought well to save a few set points, had one of his own, but Isner scraped through a spectacular 11-9 tiebreak.
When Isner broke early in the second, it seemed like things were in control. But Mother Nature decided to play a role in the match and interrupted play for about an hour. Chardy made the best of the switch in rhythm, as he won the first three games after the return. Both players then served their way to the tiebreak, which turned out to be the longest, and arguably the most exciting, of the tournament. Isner once again took the lead and get to match point, only to see Chardy stay toe-to-toe with him and get set points of his own. The American was the first one to get the chance to have a closing point on his serve, only to see Chardy drive a backhand return winner. This back-and-forth went on until 13-13 in the tiebreak, and seven match points saved later, Chardy ended the set on a service winner.
Isner, who has played a lot of tennis in the past three weeks, looked physically drained at the start of the third set. Nevertheless, he concentrated his energy on his main asset, his serve, which helped him keep points short and get to yet another tiebreak. This time, Chardy was the first to get a mini-break at 5-4, kept it until the end, and completed one of the best wins of his career.
With this win, Chardy reaches his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal. ‘It is a very important moment in a career when you are able to play well in major tournaments’, Chardy discussed. ‘Tennis is all about the Grand Slams and the Masters. If you have good results in those tournaments, it’s a good reward because that’s why you’re practicing.’ Asked about the crowd, who was cheering for him for most of the match, he replied: ‘I believe the Canadians love French players, and we love them, too. Now there are no longer any Canadian players anymore in this tournament, we are their favorite now.’
In the second quarterfinal of the day, Novak Djokovic was a clear favorite against qualifier Ernest Gulbis, who saw his ranking drop from the top 10 in 2014 to 87 at the start of the tournament. Nevertheless, the Latvian is known for his shotmaking and undeniable talent, and the five wins he had so far this week have been a proof of that.
From the get go, you could tell Djokovic was in an off-day: the Serb, a three time champion was missing early in rallies and looked a bit out of sorts. Gulbis took advantage, playing aggressive tennis to get the first set 7-5. The Latvian even got up a break in the second set, only to see the Number One fight back to force a tiebreak. Gulbis took an early 3-0 lead and looked to be creating the biggest surprise of the tournament when he got to match points at 6-4. But he got a bit tense, lost the next four points and the set. Gulbis never managed to get back in the match and Djokovic strearolled through the third set 6-1. When signing the camera after his win, Djokovic wrote the following two words: ‘Very Lucky’.
This was Djokovic’s 29th straight match win in Masters 1000, an incredibly feat. He will be looking to get to 30 against Chardy; it will be the tenth match between the two, with Djokovic never losing a set. ‘I will go on court and I have to try something new, Chardy said. Anyway, if I didn’t succeed, it will be just one more loss (laughter).’
In the other half, 4th seed Kei Nishikori played a near flawless match to beat 7th seed Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-4. He will face 2nd seed Andy Murray, who defeated 2014 winner Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-4, 6-4 in a very, very late match in Montreal. Murray leads the head-to-head 4-1, but Nishikori has won their last encounter earlier this year in Madrid.
RESULTS – FRIDAY, 14 AUGUST 2015
Singles – Third Round
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d [Q] E. Gulbis (LAT) 57 76(7) 61 – saved 2 M.P.
 A. Murray (GBR) d  J. Tsonga (FRA) 64 64
 K. Nishikori (JPN) d  R. Nadal (ESP) 62 64
J. Chardy (FRA) d  J. Isner (USA) 67(9) 76(13) 76(4) – saved 7 M.P.
Doubles – Quarter-finals
 B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d R. Nadal (ESP) / F. Verdasco (ESP) 63 67(5) 10-8
 A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA) d  J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) 62 64
D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d  M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) 64 62
[PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) d  J. Murray (GBR) / J. Peers (AUS) 63 67(5) 10-7
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 15 AUGUST 2015
COURT CENTRAL start 3:00 pm
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs J. Chardy (FRA)
Not Before 6:00 pm
 B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs  A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA)
Not Before 8:00 pm
 K. Nishikori (JPN) vs  A. Murray (GBR)