Novak Djokovic bounced back from a marathon five-setter just 48 hours earlier as he skated into the Australian Open semi-finals with an untroubled win over Tomas Berdych yesterday. The Serbian World No 1, chasing a hat-trick of Australian crowns, showed no ill-effects of his torrid five-hour dogfight with Stanislas Wawrinka as he beat the Czech fifth seed, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 2hr 31min.
Djokovic now faces a semi-final tomorrow against Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, who fought back to beat countryman Nicolas Almagro in five sets earlier yesterday. Most interest in yesterday’s match centred on how Djokovic would recover after his epic fourth-round match with Wawrinka, but he dispelled fears by easily claiming the opening set for the loss of one game in 29 minutes.
Djokovic refused to reveal details of his recovery programme but stressed it did not break any rules. The defending champion steadfastly blocked questions about his recovery after he appeared unaffected in his quarter-final despite playing for five hours against Wawrinka two days earlier. “I felt good enough to go another five hours, but I definitely wasn’t thinking about it,” Djokovic said.
“I tried to get the work done as fast and efficiently as possible. I was very happy with the way I started the match. “I was very aggressive out there, going for my shots, which wasn’t the case against Wawrinka. So it’s a good improvement and very encouraging for next match,” he added. Berdych broke the Serb in the opening game and went on to level the match by taking the second set, but it was all Djokovic in the closing two sets.
Djokovic finished with six breaks of the strong Berdych service and hit 47 winners with just 25 unforced errors, while the Czech conceded 43 errors. Djokovic revealed that he didn’t get to sleep until 5:00 am after his last marathon night match and he had accelerated his recovery by taking ice baths.
“It takes a lot of time after a match like that, it’s so physically exhausting and demanding along with mentally and emotionally, so you try to do everything that night to recover,” he said. “But after a five-hour match two days ago against Stan, I was quite convinced I could recover for this one. My team did a great job,” he added.