The big match of the week is now set with both former world No.1s through to the semi-finals of the Astana Open in Kazakhstan after Novak Djokovic downed Karen Khachamov 6-4 6-3 and Daniil Medvedev eliminated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-1.
I always expect highs from myself. “Hopefully I can elevate still the level of my game for tomorrow because it’s going to be needed, obviously, whoever I play against. Novak Djokovic
For Djokovic it was his 14th consecutive win and while he hasn’t dropped a set all week, he didn’t have it all his own way on this occasion.
The Serb took an early 3-0 lead in the opener only to start making uncharacteristic errors as the Muscovite gained some foothold to shift the momentum, taking advantage of longer rallies.
However, Khachanov was unable to completely swing the set in his favour and whatever frustration Djokovic was feeling became more evident in the second when he failed to capitalise on a break point for a 2-0 lead.
The world No.7, seeded four at Astana, eventually did make the breakthrough in the fourth game to go 3-1 up with a forehand winner. That was enough for Djokovic to go on and take his place, as expected, after 88-minutes, in the last four for what will be his sixth semi-final of the season.
“I didn’t play as well from the baseline as I did in the first two matches, but still, it was enough,” Djokovic said after the match.
“I managed to produce some good tennis when it was the most needed in both sets.”
He added: “I always expect highs from myself.
“Hopefully I can elevate still the level of my game for tomorrow because it’s going to be needed, obviously, whoever I play against.”
Later in the day his expected opponent, the world No.4 and second seed, confirmed his semi-final place.
Daniil Medvedev didn’t have any trouble in his quarter final clash with Roberto Bautista Agut, sweeping past the Spaniard for the loss of just two games, one in each set, for his 40th win of the season.
He dropped just 26 points and arrives in the last four relative fresh having only lost 10 games in three matches throughout the week.
“I am happy to play the right game, to be really solid and to do everything I can to make his life difficult and I am really happy to beat him,” Medvedev said. “I tried to mix it up as it is not easy to play against Roberto. I tried to mix it up and surprise him a little bit and it worked very well.”
Medvedev added: “I am really happy to play against Novak.
“I thought about it before the match and we have only played one tournament together this year, which was Roland Garros. This is the second one and we meet again and I am really happy.”
In their previous meetings Djokovic has won on six occasions to Medvedev’s four.
The other semi-final will be between Muscovite Andrey Rublev, a 6-1 6-2 winner over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and the Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas who had to battle hard to get past Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(8) 6-3.
Interestingly, all four semi-finalists have yet to drop a set!