London: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic has advanced to the semi-finals of the Queen’s Club Championships with a routine 7-5, 6-1 victory over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. It is just the second semi-final berth at Queen’s Club for the 12-time Grand Slam champion, who is playing this Wimbledon tune-up event for only the fourth time in his career.
Friday’s victory also was the 31-year-old superstar’s 800th match win of his career, a milestone achieved by only nine other male players in the Open Era (since 1968), Efe news reported. The 22nd-ranked Djokovic, the recipient of a wildcard from tournament organisers, went down an early break of serve in his quarter-final match but won 11 of the last 13 games to turn a 2-4 first-set deficit into an easy win.
The Serb’s return game was the difference, as he won nearly half of Mannarino’s service points (30 of 63) and broke the Frenchman’s serve four times. Djokovic, who missed the latter part of last season with an elbow injury that required surgery but has made strides toward his best level in recent weeks, has already guaranteed himself of a return to the top 20 by reaching the semi-finals and could climb to as high as number 12 if he wins this grass-court event.
Reflecting on his recent run of good form, in which he has reached at least the quarter-finals in his past three events, Djokovic said in an interview posted on the ATP World Tour’s Web site that it was “a good sign.” “It’s also something I hoped for. I was working for it as well. So in a way it doesn’t surprise me because I know what I’m capable of,” Djokovic said, adding that he has the memory of his past success “in my sort of folder.” Next up for the Serb in Saturday’s semi-finals will be Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over American Francis Tiafoe.