Novak Djokovic ramped up his game on Friday to scrape past fifth seed Tomas Berdych in two tie breaks 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8). Djokovic is seeking to complete the three-peat in Paris this week as the two-time defending champion at the BNP Paribas Masters.
Djokovic Takes Tense First Set Tie Break
It was a high quality opening set between top seed Novak Djokovic and fifth seed Tomas Berdych. Very little separated the two as they played through a terrific first set. Djokovic was much better on serve than he showed on Thursday against Gilles Simon. The Serb routinely landed his first serve in play at 83 percent which allowed him to dominate with 28 of 34 points won by Djokovic his first serve. Berdych was forced to play more second serves than Djokovic, but still managed a good success rate that allowed him to keep pace with the tournament's top seed.
Both men were forced to save one break chance on serve with Djokovic coming up large on his save that was a set point for Berdych in the 12th game. In the tie break, both players held serve through three points. That is when Djokovic took control by winning five of the next seven points to take the breaker 7-3 in an hour and three minutes.
Second Set Tightly Contested Again
Serve became even more dynamic for both players as the second set rolled on. Djokovic continued to land an extremely high percentage of first serves that were very effective. Berdych was matching that with the Serb unable to get a measure of the Czech's serve. That led the set to another tie break with neither player sniffing a break chance during the set. After a set of service holds though, the tie break featured a bevy of breaks of serve. Eleven times the server could not hold with Berdych being the bigger culprit with six points lost on serve. That included a second set point at 7-6 where Djokovic won two straight from Berdych's serve to get his first crack at match point. The Czech would pull back even at 8-8 before Djokovic took the final two points to seal the match.
After the match, the top seed was relieved to not need a third set against Berdych, saying "I definitely didn't want to go into the third. But credit to Berdych for playing on a high level, pushing me in the back of the court with the depth of his shots, especially from the forehand side. I thought he did very well."
Djokovic said he was most pleased on Friday with how he played when it mattered most in the tie breaks, "In the important moments, I just managed to hang in there, just stay tough. That's what I'm most proud of."
Plenty of Twenty
With his win on Friday, Djokovic now has tallied five different win streaks in his career of 20 matches or more. His most amazing stretch came in 2010-2011 when he won 43 straight matches. He has won 28 straight matches twice in a season, including 2015. That last streak ended when Stan Wawrinka stunned him in this year's French Open final. If Djokovic wins the title in Paris, he will match a 22 match win streak that he carried between 2012 and 2013. The Serb will be in action in the semifinals on Saturday against Stan Wawrinka.