World No. 1 Novak Djokovic tamed fellow Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, who has been struggling with a back issue all week, 6-4, 6-1 to move into the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati where he will meet qualifier Alexandr “The Dog” Dolgopolov.
“It was the best performance I had so far this week,” said Djokovic, who is attempting to win the “Masters Slam” by claiming Cincinnati, which would give him every Masters-level tournament title in his trophy room. “It came at the right time against one of my biggest rivals and the guy I lost to last time we played in the finals of the French Open…He obviously didn’t play at his best level, but I felt like I was pretty solid from the back of the court and doing what I needed to do.”
Djokovic is 0-4 in career Cincinnati finals, finishing runner-up in 2008 (l. to Andy Murray), 2009 (l. to Roger Federer), 2011 (l. to Murray) and 2012 (l. to Federer).
Dolgopolov for his part let it fly in a 6-4, 6-2 upset over No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych. The Ukrainian is 0-4 career against Djokovic but stretched the Serbian to three sets in their last meeting at Miami this year.
The other semifinal will be a mouthwatering meeting between Federer and Murray.
Murray on Friday came from a set down to beat Richard Gasquet 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, increasing his win total to 56 in 2015, the most on tour.
In the third set Gasquet cracked at 4-4, double faulting on game point to hand Murray the advantage.
“[I’m] obviously tired,” said Murray, who earlier in the week beat Grigor Dimitrov in three hours, after the two-hour-plus match against Gasquet. “Played a lot of matches, a lot of late nights where my recovery hasn’t been perfect either. So I’m just happy I managed to fight through a lot of tough matches, difficult situations, and hopefully that will keep me in good stead.”
Federer in the final men’s match of the day topped Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4.
“I’m extremely happy with the way I’m playing, it’s nice to play Andy,” Federer said. “It’s going to tough but fun…I’m feeling really good at net, the best I’ve felt in my career.”
On the women’s side world No. 1 Serena Williams moved into the semifinals, not without a great deal of difficulty, on Friday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, stretched to three sets by former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The No. 6-seeded Ivanovic led 2-0 in the third but could not muster another game, double faulting on match point.
“I did a ‘Serena,'” Williams said of her comeback. “Out of the previous nine times we’ve played I think we’ve gone three sets at least six times, so I know she plays really well. She knows what to do. She’s been No. 1, she’s won a Grand Slam. I knew it was going to be a big test for me today.”
Williams, who has now won 42 straight matches on U.S. hardcourts, beat Ivanovic in three sets in last year’s Cincinnati final.
“I got a little bit unlucky when I was serving at 4-3 [in the second set],” Ivanovic said. “Then after that I really felt like she started to get more confidence. In the third set I started well, but I physically just couldn’t keep up that level.”
In the semifinals Williams will face the No. 14 seed Elina Svitolina, who outlasted No. 7 seed Lucie Safarova 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.
Svitolina is 0-2 against Williams, but their last meeting went three sets.
“I hope I can still be playing the match when they finish announcing her titles and achievements,” Svitolina said. “But I’ll just try to go out there and try my best…You never know. It’s a new day. New things are going to happen. It’s going to be a good match.”
The other semifinal will see Jelena Jankovic, who has the most wins of any active player in Cincinnati, against No. 3 seed Simona Halep who won the late-night match on Friday.
Jankovic defeated qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-4, 6-2.
“She came through the qualies and she beat so many great players along the way,” Jankovic, the 2009 champ, said of AKS. “I’m like 10 years older than her but I was running so many balls down — it was a really tough match, and I’m really happy to win here tonight…I had so many injuries in the beginning of the season, so I’m glad I can compete at my best now.”
Halep defeated unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(3), 6-2.
Halep has won the last five meetings with Jankovic.
SATURDAY CINCINNATI SCHEDULE
CENTER start 1:00 pm
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] A. Dolgopolov (UKR)
ATP –  A. Murray (GBR) vs  R. Federer (SUI)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA –  S. Williams (USA) vs  E. Svitolina (UKR)
WTA –  S. Halep (ROU) vs J. Jankovic (SRB)
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