While the bottom half of the draw saw some surprising results on Thursday afternoon, the top half featured impeccable dominance from the tournaments top seeds, as both Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych found their way into the semi-final stage of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series with a dominant 17-2 record, including the last four wins.
In arguably his quickest match of the week, top seed Novak Djokovic breezed past Turkish wildcard entrant Marsel Ilhan 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-final stage in Dubai. The Serb struck 7 aces, won 85% of his first service points, and saved all 3 break point opportunities to close out the contest in a grand total of 49 minutes.
“He lacks a little bit of experience and confidence on being in the big stadium,” Djokovic said after the match. “That’s where I used my opportunity from the start. I made a double break, and I felt like I was in control of the match. I didn’t allow him to get into the groove.”
Faced with a slightly more difficult task, Tomas Berdych needed three sets to dispatch Sergiy Stakhovsky in the quarter-final round on Thursday. He struck 9 aces, and won 81% of ihis first service points to earn the 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win in 1 hour and 41 minutes.
This marks the 20th time that Djokovic and Berdych will meet on the professional tour, with the top seed holding a dominant 17-2 record against his adversary. In 2014, Djokovic demolished Berdych 6-2, 6-0 in the China Open final to hand the Czech his most embarrassing victory ever. He then followed up with 6-2, 6-2 victory at the World Tour Finals to put an emphatic finish to their series for the season. However, Berdych has raised his level of play in 2015, and could make this one a more competitive match-up.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets