Djokovic cruises into last four
Novak Djokovic made it three wins out of three at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals to qualify for the semi-finals at London's O2 Arena.
- Related Content
The world number one was in impressive form as he saw off Tomas Berdych 6-2 7-6 (8/6), saving three set points in the second set.
Djokovic is now guaranteed to top Group A while Berdych is out, and Andy Murray only needs a set against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga tonight to ensure he will also qualify for the last four.
Berdych had beaten Djokovic only once in 11 previous meetings, in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2010, and he was soon under pressure.
Djokovic's famed returns were rushing the Czech and, although he clawed his way back from 0-40 in the third game, a fourth chance arrived and the world number one took it.
Djokovic, whose best performance at the O2 was a semi-final appearance in 2010, looked extremely sharp and he made it five games in a row before Berdych finally stopped the rot.
The top seed comfortably held to win the set, though, and with that assured himself qualification for the last four.
Berdych appeared to have no answer when Djokovic broke again in the third game of the second set but he began to take the fight to his opponent a bit more and hit back to level at 2-2.
The crowd were keen to see a good match and got behind the Czech, who saved more break points to edge ahead in the set.
Berdych was beginning to match Djokovic from the back of the court and making his extra power count, and he made a flying start to the tie-break, winning five of the first six points.
But Djokovic did not give up and saved two set points on his own serve before another trademark return at Berdych's feet levelled matters at 6-6.
The top seed then added a fourth point in a row and clinched victory when Berdych fired a return long.
Djokovic, who is now likely to avoid defending champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals, has built a reputation for clawing his way back from difficult positions in sets and matches.
He said: "I just try to have simple thinking, to fight for every point. Sometimes it doesn't work. I'm glad it worked today.
"For the first time I won all three matches in my group. This is very encouraging for me, so I will try to focus on the semi-final now."
The world number one did not have the best build-up to the tournament, losing his first match at the Paris Masters last week after dashing back to Belgrade to visit his ill father.
Srdjan Djokovic is now recovering from a respiratory illness, but the situation has made it hard for his son to concentrate on tennis.
"It was (difficult)," said Djokovic. "It still is. But there's good news every day. That makes me happier, makes me play more relaxed on the court.
"I switch off on the tennis court. I try to think only about the match. And it's been working well so far."
Berdych was a little disappointed with how he played and was reluctant to think about what might have been.
He said: "I had some chances in the tie-break. If I had been able to make it, tried to push him for the third set, then maybe I would have got another chance. But it didn't happen. It wasn't one of my best matches with him."
The season is not over yet for Berdych, who will lead the Czech Republic in next weekend's Davis Cup final against Spain in Prague.
He hopes this tournament will prove to be the perfect preparation, saying: "I'm just going to try to prepare myself as best as I can for that event.
"I think this is the better option, to play with the tough guys. Even if you win or not, I think it's better to have a week like this than play some small tournament. I hope that the best moment is still to come."