TWO-TIME champion Novak Djokovic thumped Spain’s David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2 to march into the last four of the Shanghai Masters and set up a semi-final showdown with third seed and familiar rival Roger Federer.
The Serbian world No 1, who won the China Open title for a fifth time last week, hit 26 winners against the Spaniard’s 11 to stretch his winning streak in China to 29 matches.
Djokovic took control early by breaking Ferrer’s serve in the second game and then saved two break points at 5-4 to serve out the first set.
World No 5 Ferrer, who had eliminated Andy Murray from the tournament 24 hours earlier, did not have another opportunity to break the top seed’s serve and was broken twice in the second set as he lost his seventh consecutive meeting against Djokovic.
“Roger is one of the best players ever in the game,” said Djokovic. “There is no clear favourite. I think every time we play against each other, it’s a thriller.
“It’s really a big challenge for both of us. We need to bring our ‘A’ game in order to win.”
Frenchman Julien Benneteau matched Federer shot for shot in the first set but the 17-times grand slam found a new level in the second to win 7-6(4) 6-0.
Federer converted three out of four break point opportunities in the second set to canter to victory.
The Swiss, who served 11 aces, won 91 per cent of his first serve points and smashed 34 winners, double the number the Frenchman could manage.
Unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon also moved into the semi-finals after ousting sixth-seed Tomas Berdych in three sets, leaving the Czech sweating about a place at the ATP World Tour finals.
Simon, ranked 29th in the world, earned a 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-0 win after a two-and-a-half hour slugfest to set up a last four meeting with Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
The tall left-handed Spaniard, who knocked out compatriot Rafa Nadal in the second round, fought back from a set and a break of serve down to beat Russian Mikhail Youzhny 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Simon’s win was his second big upset of the tournament following his second-round victory over Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
Berdych is currently seventh in the ATP Race To London standings, with five singles spots left up for grabs at next month’s season-ending event.
The Czech will compete in next week’s Stockholm Open to try to book a spot in the eight-man field for London. Nadal revealed he plans to remain on antibiotics and hopes to keep playing as he continues to battle a bout of appendicitis.
He was diagnosed with the condition last Sunday but decided to play in Shanghai, where he suffered a second-round defeat to Lopez.
Nadal ruled out undergoing surgery to remove his appendix after that loss and, according to the ATP World Tour’s official website, wants to see out the season. An article on www.atpworldtour.com on yesterday read: “Rafael Nadal will remain on antibiotics for appendicitis for at least five more days after visiting the Clinica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis in Barcelona.”
It added that the 28-year-old “hopes to be fit” to fulfil his remaining commitments this year – he is scheduled to play at the Swiss Indoors Basel, Paris Masters and ATP World Tour Finals in London. Nadal made his return from a wrist injury late last month, but could only reach the quarter-finals of the China Open in Beijing.