Novak Djokovic laid down an early marker ahead of the US Open when he produced what he described “as close to perfection” as he could be in the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in Canada.
The world No.1 was imperious in a 6-1, 6-2, thumping of Frenchman Richard Gasquet as he blasted winners from all over the court in an eye-catching performance that should serve as a reminder to his rivals for the Flushing Meadows title held by Andy Murray
“In every part of my game I was at my best,” Djokovic said after taking just 52 minutes to humble the world No.9.
“From the start of the match I tried to dictate the play on the court and be in control of the rallies. I did it really well. As close to perfection as you can be, really.”
Djokovic was set to face his long time rival Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals after the Spaniard was equally emphatic on the scoreboard and not far off in performance in a convincing straight sets win over Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic. Nadal beat Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set of an epic French Open semi-final two months, ago but, in this type of mood, even he may find the Serbian difficult to contain.
“Hard court is my most preferred surface. I feel that that’s maybe the place where I have more chances against him [Nadal] than on clay definitely,” Djokovic said. “Of course it’s going to be a huge challenge for both of us, but I’ll be ready for it.”
A Nadal-Djokovic match is a worthy final on any surface and the pair have plenty of history. Nadal leads their head-to-head 20-15 and before this year’s French Open, their previous 11 meetings had been in finals, four of which had been on hard courts, all won by Djokovic.
“The conditions here are probably more favourable for him,” Nadal acknowledged after his quarter-final.
“Yes, we are playing on hard, but especially the conditions here. It’s one of the fastest courts of the hardcourt tournaments outdoors. Maybe that makes him a little bit more the favourite.”
In Toronto, top seed Serena Williams cruised into the semi-finals of the women’s Rogers Cup, but defending champion Petra Kvitova became the latest victim of Sorana Cirstea’s fine run. World No.1 Williams broke Magdalena Rybarikova’s serve six times as she eased past the Slovakian 6-1, 6-1.
“I’m definitely happier with the return game today,” the American said after ending the winning run of Rybarikova, who retained the Citi Open title in Washington last week. “I could still use some improvement, but I was pretty happy with the results from today.”
The 16-times grand slam winner will tackle Agnieszka Radwanska in the last four after the Polish third seed overcame Sara Errani, the fifth seed from Italy, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.
Cirstea, meanwhile, won seven consecutive games when trailing by a set and 4-5 en route to a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over sixth-seeded Czech Kvitova. The win continued a brilliant week for the Romanian, who ousted ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki and 15th seed Jelena Jankovic in the previous two rounds.
She will next face Chinese fourth seed Li Na, who beat Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-1), 6-2.