Novak Djokovic powered his way into the semi-finals of the French Open sixth consecutive year after he trounced the world number eight, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, in straight sets for a 6-3 7-5 6-3 victory.
Djokovic on the brink
In a couple of months’ time Novak Djokovic could be talked about as the greatest tennis player of all time.
He could have completed the prestigious career Grand Slam and have won a first Olympic Gold medal at the upcoming games in Brazil.
He could have upped his tally to 13 major titles, if he wins the French Open and Wimbledon, and could be breathing down the neck of the illustrious Roger Federer on 17.
At this rate Djokovic could even threaten the Swiss’ incredible record of 302 weeks at world number one; the Serb is currently on 200 exactly but looks in no danger of being dismantled from his perch any time soon.
All could depend on the events of the few days, and a maiden title here at Roland Garros could be the catalyst for all time prominence.
He is just two matches away after beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets at the quarter final stage.
A 6-3 7-5 6-3 victory may appear a routine one for the top seed and for the majority it was, however there were times when apparent pressure caused Djokovic to boil beyond his usual limits.
He was very fortunate when his racket hit the fence rather than a spectator or official when he smashed it into the ground in the third set.
Djokovic also received a few boos from the Philippe Chatrier crowd after leading the players off court due to light rain, however they returned five minutes later.
Berdych came into the match off the back of an impressive straight sets win over clay court specialist David Ferrer, in a match where the slow conditions allowed the Czech to blast his way to the last eight.
If that gave Berdych confidence, then a glimpse at his head to head record with Djokovic wouldn't have done his belief much good.
Ominous Signs For Berdych
In 25 meetings, before this encounter, the Serb had won 23 and it was clear to see why in the opening set.
After his fourth round victory Djokovic stated he could still find another gear after convincingly, but unspectacularly by his high standards, coming through the opening rounds.
Against Berdych he released the clutch, and Djokovic was able to dice and dissect the Czech’s game from the back of the court due to his superior movement.
A blistering forehand return from the world number one in the seventh game saw him break the Berdych serve for the first time and he did so again to see out the set.
The Czech conceded his serve again at the start of the second, but showed good resolve by increasing the power of his groundstrokes which kept the score line close.
Even so that didn’t stop Djokovic taking a two set lead, a position he has lost from just once in his entire career.
Pressure Building On Djokovic
The weight of what Djokovic is trying to achieve this week clearly got to the Serb at the start of the third, when drops of rain began fall over Parisian clay and threatened to suspend play yet again.
After squandering a break point opportunity at the start of the third, Djokovic threw his racquet into the ground in frustration and it bounced so high that almost hit one of the line judges.
If it had there would have been huge question marks over the outcome, and you can’t help but think back to the incident which included David Nalbandian at the Aegon Championships a couple of years ago when he was disqualified after injuring an official.
The drizzly conditions continued and at 3-3 the players were briefly taken off court despite Berdych’s protests, however the court wasn’t covered and they returned just a few minutes later.
When they returned Djokovic pounced to close out the match and reach the last four where he will play either Austrian Dominic Thiem or Belgian David Goffin. Whoever it is it will be their first ever major semi-final.