US Open - Men: Djokovic eases into quarters
Mon, 06 Sep 20:58:00 2010
Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic successfully countered big-hitting American Mardy Fish's service game to reach the US Open quarter-finals.
Djokovic, who survived a five-set struggle in the first round, shifted into top gear for his best performance of the tournament to claim a 6-3 6-4 6-1 victory over the 19th seed.
The 23-year-old Serb, a semi-finalist at the US Open in the past two years and runner-up in 2007, unleashed some formidable returns and used his superior quickness and shot-making skills to turn the fourth-round test into a rout.
Djokovic drilled 30 winners past the sluggish Fish, 28, and even outperformed him from the service line with five aces to just three for the American.
After reaching his sixth successive grand slam quarter-final, Djokovic said he was most pleased with the focus he maintained in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"Whenever I had the chance I used it," said the Serb, who converted six of eight break points in the 110-minute match.
"When he served his games I was returning really well and I was serving really well, using the court well. Overall I'm very happy with the way I played."
The Serb is gaining momentum as he goes, and is on course for another clash against Swiss master Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
Djokovic was eliminated the last three years at the Open by Federer.
"This gave me a lot of confidence," the Serb said about his dominant play. "It's great to raise the level of performance towards the end of the tournament.
"It's been a great couple of years for me in New York so hopefully I can go on."
US Open Men - 4th round
Djokovic will next face France's Gael Monfils, who overpowered Richard Gasquet 6-4 7-5 7-5 and then chided his compatriot for buckling under pressure.
Monfils, the number 17 seed, praised Gasquet as the stronger player before the pair stepped on court but then had little trouble during the two hour and 35 minute affair.
Gasquet had a chance to serve for the second set but his form dramatically eluded him and, with it, his chance to advance at the year's final Grand Slam.
Monfils was all smiles with his close friend after the match - the pair exchanged kisses on either cheek on court - but he laid into his rival afterward.
"With the first set point he had in second set, he could have passed me easy but he showed me at that time he was not that good mentally," said Monfils.
"He showed me he was, I won't say weak, but it was like a bit shaky.
"So I tried to be very tough and very hard with him, showing him that I'm the man and I'm the leader. I tried to get him a bit in the head, to show him I was strong.
"Richard doesn't really like pressure like that... so I just played with that, played a bit with his mind and that was it."
Monfils was the fan favourite from the moment he stepped on court at Louis Armstrong Stadium and, when the noise of the crowd dropped slightly, he whipped them into a frenzy.
"The crowd helped me for sure in the second set. After I served the set point, I asked the crowd to get involved a bit, and they did," he said. "That's why I broke him straightaway, because I had positive energy.
"I love when it's intense, I love it. It makes me feel like I'm stronger again, so for sure when the crowd gets involved I play my best tennis."
Whatever happens in the next round, Monfils has already achieved his best result in five US Open appearances.
"I have revenge to take because (Djokovic) won against me at home in Bercy," said Monfils, referring to his loss to Djokovic in the Paris Masters final last November.
"So, this time I hope to win."
Fifth seed Robin Soderling of Sweden set up a potential quarter-final showdown against Roger Federer by defeating Spain's Albert Montanes 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-3.
Montanes, the tournament's 21st seed, capitalised on the only break point of the opening set to take a surprise lead on a sunny day at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
But the Spaniard's lead was short-lived as Soderling began to find his range with his big serves and heavy-hitting from the baseline.
He raced through the subsequent three sets to set up a last-eight meeting with either five-times champion Federer or number 13 seed Jurgen Melzer of Austria.Reuters