MELBOURNE, Australia – Spain’s David Ferrer was eliminated from the Australian Open after losing a bruising baseline battle in Wednesday’s quarterfinals against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
Ferrer employed the lone strategy available to him – leverage his renowned fitness to try to exhaust the Serbian in a war of attrition – but in the end it was Djokovic who won going away after the first two sets were closely contested.
Ferrer saved six break points early on in the first set of the night match before finally dropping serve in his third service game.
The Spaniard didn’t wilt, however, staying close over the next few games and even holding a break point in the 10th game before Djokovic was able to clinch the set 6-4.
Ferrer put up even more of a fight in the second set, coming back twice from down a break of serve to force an eventual tiebreak.
The Serbian also seemed to experience pain in his leg during the second set, although it did not affect his movement noticeably and he was able to take the tiebreaker comfortably thanks to three costly unforced errors by the Spaniard.
Losing the tiebreaker was a tough psychological blow for Ferrer, who dropped serve twice and could only manage two points against the world No. 1’s serve in the final set.
“I feel good. I did a good game. I had my chance in the second set ... but when I lost the second set, and the third set he plays better than me, I was a little bit tired,” Ferrer said in the post-match press conference.
Asked about the possible injury to his hamstring, Djokovic said afterward that “it wasn’t something that stayed there for long time. It was just a, you know, sudden pain.”
“But, look, you could expect before coming to this match that it’s going to be very physical. David makes you run, makes you play an extra shot, makes you earn your points.”
Next up for Djokovic in Friday’s semifinal will be Scotland’s Andy Murray, who easily defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday.
Djokovic, who holds four Grand Slam titles, defeated Murray in last year’s Australian Open final to kick off the best season of his career.
The other men’s semifinal, to be played Thursday night, will be a mouth-watering matchup between Spain’s Rafael Nadal, the world No. 2, and world No. 3 and arch-rival Roger Federer of Switzerland.
The Australian Open is regarded as the fourth-most prestigious tournament on the tennis calendar after Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the French Open. EFE