Novak Djokovic and Ernests Gulbis advanced to a semifinal meeting after victories on Tuesday at Roland Garros.
Novak Djokovic, who would reclaim the No. 1 ranking with a first French Open title, defeated No. 8 seed Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-4.
“He’s been playing really well,” Djokovic said of Gulbis. “He’s confident. But again, I like my chances because I have had now couple of great weeks on the clay courts from Rome to now last 10 days here in Roland Garros.”
Djokovic has now won 10 straight matches heading into the Roland Garros semifinals.
“Even though it was a straight set win, few points here and there kind of decided the winner,” Djokovic said of the Raonic meeting. “That’s what I was expecting. I knew that he’s going to serve and I’m not going to have many opportunities, but when I do have them, I should use them. I have done well.”
Gulbis followed his previous-round win over Roger Federer with a straight-set victory over world No. 6 Tomas Berdych, beating the Czech 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
“I felt physically so good,” Gulbis said. “I felt that I can run forever. I felt that he cannot make winners. That’s how I felt on court. I felt that I covered it really well. If I feel so confident from the baseline, then everything just comes together.”
Gulbis trails Djokovic 1-4 in their career head-to-head meetings.
“I think just for me it’s 0-0 with him in matches,” Gulbis said. “The way I’m playing now, I never played like this. I never felt like this. What was in the past I don’t even consider. I beat him once, also in a bad match. He was changing racquet, and he was playing really bad.”
Gulbis will likely break into the Top 10 for the first time on the ATP Rankings following the completion of Roland Garros.
“My happiness comes only from doing my job well,” Gulbis said. “Then I can really live my life to the maximum. I can enjoy the stuff much more. It’s really important for my happiness just to be successful on the tennis court. Forget about the money. Forget about fame. It’s just about my inner comfort. That’s it. For me, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
On the women’s side on Tuesday both Maria Sharapova and Genie Bouchard won quarterfinal matches to advance to a semifinal meeting of stately blondes.
The No. 7-seeded Sharapova defeated unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 1-6, 7-5, 6-1, while Bouchard had an equally-difficult time overcoming No. 14-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-5.
Serving at a set and 4-5 down, Sharapova found her range, winning nine of the next 10 games.
“In the second set, when I was making her hit a second ball after her serve or when I was being a bit more aggressive on the second serves, taking a bit more chances, all of a sudden she’s not hitting so freely,” Sharapova said. “Little by little I started playing a bit better, started getting in the court a little bit more, playing a little bit more aggressive, serving better than I did in the first set, returning as well, giving myself more looks at break points.”
Bouchard benefited when Suarez Navarro, up 4-1 in the third, choked up on the bat and failed to aggressively put the Canadian away.
“At the end of the third set I thought I was getting the upper hand, began to believe that I could win,” Bouchard said. “I’m just excited to be in the semifinals and to stay a little longer in Paris. I’m just going to enjoy myself in the semifinals.”
Sharapova is only 8-9 career in Grand Slam semifinals, and 2-2 in French Open semis. Bouchard is the first Canadian ever to reach two Grand Slam semifinals, losing her first earlier this year to Li Na at the Australian Open. The winner of their meeting will be in the Top 10 following Roland Garros, while the loser will not.
On court Wednesday at the French Open in quarterfinal play will be (10) Sara Errani vs. (28) Andrea Petkovic, (23) Gael Monfils vs. (7) Andy Murray, (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. (4) Simona Halep, and (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (4) David Ferrer.
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