Djokovic Downs Hurkacz, Secures Madrid SF Spot
Novak Djokovic maintained the quest for his first title of the season Friday, cruising past Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4 to reach his seventh Mutua Madrid Open semi-final.
The World No. 1 struck the ball with relentless depth, accuracy and power as he controlled points with his watertight groundstrokes to advance after 78 minutes and improve his perfect ATP Head2Head series record against Hurkacz to 4-0.
“I was serving really well in the second set, I think that kept me alive,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “I was pleased with the way I was constructing points. I tried to make him run and miss and overall It was a solid performance.
“It is definitely warmer today, even in the past two hours since the warm up, the bounce of the ball has increased by two metres. Hubi is tall and with his rotation in this altitude, everything bounces really high, so I was standing [deep] in the court, trying to mix things up. Put pressure on his first serve. It took us both time to adjust and the second set I think was better quality.”
The Serbian reached the final in Belgrade last month and is looking to build further momentum in the Spanish capital in his fourth event of the year. Earlier this week, Djokovic eliminated Gael Monfils in his opening match to ensure himself of a record-extending 369th week as World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings from Monday, before he received a walkover from Andy Murray.
The top seed will face World No. 3 Rafael Nadal or #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in what will be his 72nd ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. Only Nadal (76) has reached the last four at a Masters 1000 event more.
Djokovic is also chasing his 38th Masters 1000 crown and his fourth title in Madrid, after triumphing in Spain in 2011, 2016 and in his previous appearance in 2019.
In a strong first set, Djokovic looked comfortable on Manolo Santana Stadium as he dominated the forehand exchanges, with Hurkacz unable to hit through the World No. 1. The 34-year-old raced to a 3-0 lead and did not face a break point in the set to move ahead after 36 minutes.
Djokovic continued to maintain the pressure in the second set, returning with great depth to force Hurkacz into errors. The top seed gained the crucial break in the fifth game, before he continued to play consistently to soar to victory, triumphing on his fourth match point.
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According to Tennis Data Innovations, Djokovic converted 84 per cent of the points in which he was in an offensive position as he blasted past Hurkacz. The ATP Tour average for conversion rate on clay is 65 per cent.
On the attack 26 per cent of the time, the Serbian also dominated the match's Balance of Power, with Hurkacz on the offensive just 19 per cent of the time. (Learn more about Balance of Power and Conversion & Steal scores).
Hurkacz was playing in his third Masters 1000 quarter-final of the year, having advanced to the semi-finals on hard in Miami and the last eight on the clay in Monte Carlo. The World No. 14 earned just one win on clay in 2021, but he is already 6-2 on the surface this season.
Despite his defeat, Hurkacz has moved up two spots to No. 12 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings.