Novak Djokovic advanced to the Tel Aviv Watergen Open semi-finals but his friend, Canadian Vasek Pospisil, didn’t make it easy for the Serbian who is chasing his 89th tour title.
It is never easy playing someone you respect so much and like so much, but we are both professionals and wanted to win the match and you can see that Novak Djokovic
The top-seed required just under two hours to get past the 149th ranked player and progress 7- 6(5) 6-3 and maintain his perfect record in their six meetings.
“It was a great, positive win,” said Djokovic, who is playing a singles tournament for the first time since winning Wimbledon in July.
“Vasek is one of my best friends on the Tour. We have known each other for many years.
“It is never easy playing someone you respect so much and like so much, but we are both professionals and wanted to win the match and you can see that.
“I think the level of tennis was really high. Especially towards the end of the first set and the second set. Credit to him for fighting. Great to see him back.”
Djokovic, the former world number who has slipped down to seven, struggled to gain control in the first set which after 59-minutes, was decided on a tie-break.
Once that hurdle was finally cleared, the 35-year-old Serb broke his rival’s serve twice in the second to roll past his Canadian adversary who has been plagued by back injuries during his career,
Djokovic next takes on 104th ranked Roman Safiullin who beat Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech 6-4 6-1 while his main rival for the title, second seed Marin Cilic, progressed into the last four when Britain’s Liam Broady conceded the match on a walkover for reasons yet to be made public.
In the last four Cilic, a former US Open champion, will play Frenchman Constant Lestienne who beat the fourth-seeded Maxime Cressy of the US 6-7(4) 6-3 7-6(3) to reach his first tour-level semi-final.