Eyeing the year-end No. 1 ranking, Novak Djokovic seems to have his game in excellent form. Last night the Serb blew out Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-2 to reach the semifinals in Tokyo. Djokovic may have lost the US Open final to Andy Murray, but I still think he’s the best outdoor hardcourt player on the planet right now.
“I have stepped up at least a level in each match that I have played here,” said Djokovic. “But I am trying to be more aggressive and to have more efficiency on my serve. The serve was great tonight. It’s one of the best serving matches I have had in my career, so that’s a positive sign. I will try to keep on going.”
Next up is Florian Mayer tonight and then a likely date with JW Tsonga in the finals, provided the Frenchman disposes of Feliciano Lopez. So Novak will be the heavy favorite this weekend to pick up his fourth title of the season and really put pressure on Roger Federer in the No. 1 race.
The women’s semifinals feature Victoria Azarenka against Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova vs. Li Na. Another scream final ahead?
In Tokyo, Andy Murray continued his title defense taking out Stan Wawrinka in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Murray moves on to the semifinals where he’ll have another showdown with Milos Raonic. The Canadian, who saved a matchpoint today in a tough third set breaker victory over Janko Tipsarevic, beat Murray on the clay this spring, but on an outdoor hardcourt Murray’s a much better player. And we saw that in New York when Murray hammered him.
“I think it will be tough. He’s played well this week. Today was a good win for him,” Murray said of Milos. “When you play a guy with a game like has, it’s always going to be tricky. I’ll try to do what I did in New York. I got a lot of returns in play. Once I was in the point, I was able to dictate a lot of them so I’ll try and do the same tomorrow.”
In the other semifinal Marcos Baghdatis battles Kei Nishikori who excited his home fans upsetting Tomas Berdych. So it’s shaping up to be a good weekend of tennis, and it’s on TV courtesy of the Tennis Channel. Hopefully the sickos stay away.
SATURDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
 N Li (CHN) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
Not Before 7:30 PM
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs F Mayer (GER) – ATP
 N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / S Mirza (IND) vs  E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
SATURDAY TOKYO SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
 A Murray (GBR) vs  M Raonic (CAN)
M Baghdatis (CYP) vs  K Nishikori (JPN)
 L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / F Cermak (CZE)
 A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs T Berdych (CZE) / N Zimonjic (SRB)
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