Former world number one Novak Djokovic advances to the semifinals in Tel Aviv after beating Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in straight sets on Friday.
In their sixth meeting at tour level, Djokovic battled past the Canadian lucky loser to earn a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory in one hour and 53 minutes.
In his on-court interview, the 21-time Grand Slam champion said: “It was a great, positive win. Vasek is one of my best friends on the Tour. We have known each other for many years. It is never easy playing someone you respect so much and like so much, but we are both professionals and wanted to win the match, and you can see that.”
The opener saw Pospisil, 32, displaying high-quality tennis to match his top rival’s run of form, putting the World No. 7 under pressure, leading into a first-set tiebreak the Serbian won.
“I think the level of tennis was really high. Especially towards the end of the first set and the second set. Credit to him for fighting. Great to see him back,” Djokovic added.
In the second set of their quarterfinal encounter, the Belgrade native raised his level to take the victory over his adversary, securing his place in the ATP 250 event’s semifinals.
All in all, Djokovic won 74 percent of the first serve points to 82 from his opponent.
Moreover, the 35-year-old won 73 percent of his second serve points while Pospisil won just 46 percent of his.
The seven-time Wimbledon champion debuted in Tel Aviv Thursday, ousting Spaniard Pablo Andujar, 6-0, 6-3, with a nearly flawless tennis display.
On Saturday, the 88-time ATP titlist will face 25-year-old Roman Safiullin for a place in the final.
Meanwhile, World No. 104 took out Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, 6-4, 6-1, to reach the second tour-level semifinal of his career.
Last February, en route to his maiden career semifinal on Tour at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, Safiullin put out Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, falling next to third seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets.
Djokovic and the Podolsk born-player have never played one another before.
Talking about his next opponent, the Italian Open reigning champion, commented: “I know Roman he made a breakthrough this year. I watched him play today a bit. He is showing some good tennis. He’s got nothing to lose, and I don’t play badly either, so we will have an interesting semifinals match.”
The former World No. 1 aims to capture the title in his maiden appearance at the tournament, eyeing the Nitto ATP Finals.
As of today, he sits 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.