Djokovic to face Berdych
Dubai - Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic beat Florian Mayer of Germany 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals, where he will face Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic, the two-time defending champion in Dubai, trailed 5-3 in the first set before winning the final four games when his opponent's serve abandoned him. The third-ranked Serb easily won the second set to reach his fourth consecutive semifinal in Dubai.
Djokovic struggled early on with the 38th-ranked Mayer's serve, backhand slice and his aggressive net play.
"The ball was going faster today, and he took it to me from the start," Djokovic said. "Already first game he was on the net, twice, three times. I was not moving my legs well. I was making lots of unforced errors."
Djokovic eventually stepped up his game but he also benefited from Mayer's three double faults in his last two service games. The first helped Djokovic level the set at 5-5 and then two in the final game allowed the Serb to break Mayer and take the set.
That seemed to deflate Mayer, who put up little resistance after that. He was broken twice by Djokovic in the second set as the Serb ran off the final five games for his 12th straight win.
Next up is Berdych, who Djokovic beat in the Australian Open quarterfinals on his way to winning his second Grand Slam.
"Yeah, tough one. He's playing really well in the last year and a half," Djokovic said. "He's a quite consistent player right now. He has a very powerful serve, very fast baseline strokes, very flat, so I guess I need to be patient and wait for my chances."
Earlier in the day, Berdych beat Phillip Petzschner of Germany 7-5, 6-4 in just under two hours.
The third-seeded Czech broke Petzschner three times in the first set but dropped serve twice. Berdych wasted six set points, closing it out when the 73rd-ranked German hit a forehand long.
The second set was just as close, with Berdych's decisive break making it 5-4.
Berdych conceded he had trouble with the big-serving Petzschner, whose style contrasted to that of Nikolay Davydenko of Russia from Wednesday's win.
"You know, both of them were very tough," Berdych said. "That's the way what Philipp likes to play _ big serves, sometimes come to the net, a lot of slice in the backhand side and then he just makes a winner like that. So that's what he likes to do, you know, just not give you a rhythm on court at all."