Rome - Number two seed Novak Djokovic has set up a semi-final meeting with
Canada's Milos Raonic at the Rome Masters after ousting Spain's David
Ferrer 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 on Friday.
After dominating a hard-fought
opening set, the Serbian was outplayed in the second and had to overcame
a few wobbles on his way to wrapping up the match in 2hr 31min.
who admitted his dream is to finally win the French Open when it begins
later this month, said Ferrer had put him through his paces.
definitely the most physical match I've had on clay this year and I'm
glad to overcome this challenge," said Djokovic, who missed the Madrid
Open last week as he recovered from a wrist injury.
going to work for every point, and coming out as winner, gives me
confidence and I'm really glad to win this match."
Earlier, Raonic claimed his last-four spot with a commanding 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 quarter-final win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Chardy had eliminated Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer on Wednesday 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6).
after seeing the unseeded Frenchman fighting back to level by winning a
close second set, Raonic regained control of the match in a largely
one-sided third set to advance.
Raonic, considered an outside bet
for the French Open later this month, said his next challenge would
prove difficult whichever player he met.
"If I can control the
centre of the court, if I can really be the one dictating and take care
of my service it's going to be very important," he said.
number 10 seed Sara Errani, meanwhile, benefited from huge crowd support
as she stunned China's number two seed Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to make the
semis for the second consecutive year.
She is on course to become
the first Italian woman since Raffaella Reggi 29 years ago to win the
tournament when it was held in Taranto and next meets Serbian sixth seed
Jelena Jankovic after she accounted for Agnieszka Radwanska, the third
seed from Poland, 6-4, 6-4.
Errani and Jankovic were joined in the
last four by Ana Ivanovic, although the Serbian 11th seed had to dig
deep throughout a thrilling encounter with Carla Suarez Navarro before
finally beating the Spaniard, seeded 13, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
will next meet either defending champion and top seed Serena Williams or
China's Zhang Shuai, but with the American expected to prevail Ivanovic
knows she faces a tough task.
"She has won a lot of tournaments
on clay and she's good on any surface but it's always challenging to
face such a good player," said Ivanovic.
The pick of Friday's
matches will be the last eight clash between British seventh seed Andy
Murray and top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain.
They are due to play on central court from 2100 local time (1900 GMT).
Wimbledon champion Murray won one of his two Grand Slam titles on clay
at the American Open, but having skipped two months of the season due to
injury the Scot is the clear underdog against the world number one.
Djokovic added: "Andy has had his ups and downs, especially because of injury.
he's a two-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic champion so you still
have to consider him one of best players in the world.
"Nadal is the favourite to win tonight, but if Andy is feeling good and striking the ball well, anything is possible."
Results on Friday from the fifth day of the WTA/ATP Rome Masters tournament:
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt David Ferrer (ESP x5) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x12) bt Tommy Haas (GER x15) 6-2, ret'd
Milos Raonic (CAN x8) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2
Jelena Jankovic (SRB x6) bt Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x3) 6-4, 6-4
Sara Errani (ITA x10) bt Li Na (CHN x2) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Ana Ivanovic (SRB x11) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x13) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4