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Djokovic crushes birthday boy Nadal

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Sets showdown with Murray, as Serena cruises 

In what has been described as match of the year by tennis lovers, the quarterfinal pairing between World no1, Novak Djokovic and defending champion, Rafael Nadal, lived up to its billings yesterday. At the end, it was Djokovic who booked a place in the semifinals.

For both players, history was at stake: Nadal was looking to keep Djokovic at bay to retain his crown and win an astonishing tenth title in Paris. On his part, Djokovic was hoping to dethrone Nadal and keep alive his dream of a first Roland Garros title.

Djokovic started the match superbly, racing to a 4-0 lead under 20 minutes and was serving for 5-0 when Nadal came back into the match, breaking serve and leveling the match at four all. Djokovic’s unforced errors mounted and he barely held serve.

But the Serbian champion was not to be denied and he broke serve at the death to take the first set 7-5. This was the pair’s 44th meeting and there were no secrets from the other as both struggled to hold serve, while trying to convert break point opportunities. He went on to take the first set after 67 minutes.

The winner of the first set had won 11 of their last 13 minutes and Djokovic was hoping to keep it that way. The Serb finally had his opportunity in the eighth game, and he duly converted the break point.

With a dominant serve in the second set, winning 16 of 18 straight service points, it was only a matter of time before the Spaniard crumbled and Djokovic grabbed the second set with a sublime half volley drop shot.

The third set sounded the death knell for the Spaniard as Djokovic raced to a 4-0 lead again, but this time, he didn’t relinquish it. Djokovic has now won 27 matches in a row and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The Serb allowed Nadal just one game in the final set and closed the match under three hours.

Yesterday was Nadal’s 29th birthday, but Djokovic wasn’t about to give him a birthday gift. He would go on to face a familiar rival, Andy Murray, for a spot in the semi finals, after the Brit won his match against David Ferrer of Spain. Serena Williams is on a quick match to the finals, but first she would have to get past Timea Bacsinszky to play the winner of Ivanovic-Safarova.

Willaims has struggled through the tournament, but she finally seems to be finding her range. It is most likely she would make the finals here, as she seems to have improved in the latter stage matches.

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