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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, May 6, 2022

 
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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic dissected Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Madrid semifinals with his first Top 20 win of the season.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

 

Streaks of skid marks traced Novak Djokovic’s trek to his seventh Madrid semifinal.

Dispensing dynamic movement and damaging drives down the line, Djokovic dispatched Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4 to cruise into the Mutua Madrid Open final four.

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The world No. 1 slammed six aces and did not face a break point in an 81-minute triumph to secure a spot in his 72nd career Masters 1000 semifinal.

It was Djokovic’s first Top 20 win of the season and sends the three-time Madrid champion into a blockbuster semifinal showdown against either 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal or 19-year-old phenom Carlos Alcaraz.




Contesting his 88th Masters quarterfinal, Djokovic won six straight points to open. A Hurkacz double fault gave the top seed break point and when the Pole floated a backhand, Djokovic had the break and a 2-0 lead.

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The 2021 Miami Open champion tried rallying with Djokovic, but the Serbian wasn’t missing much and Hurkacz’s flat drives were flying in Madrid’s higher altitude. Djokovic drained successive errors confirming for 3-love.

Through three games, Hurkacz littered seven errors compared to one for the world No. 1.

A sharp Djokovic change direction with command thumping a forehand winner down the line for 4-1.

Squinting into the high afternoon sun serving for the set, Djokovic pulled up his polo shirt to cover his eyes from the glare between points.

An ace brought Djokovic double set point. Cruising through eight of his last nine serve points, Djokovic slid a serve out wide collecting the 35-minute opener.

An elastic Djokovic was smothering Hurkacz’s second serve—he won 10 of the first 16 points played on the Pole’s second delivery—and even threatening the first serve. Hurkacz netted a drop volley to face two break points. The No. 12 seed’s forehand failed him flying long as Djokovic broke for a 3-2 second-set lead.




Throughout the match, Djokovic’s willingness to step forward and fire his forehand into the corners helped keep him on the front foot. Attacking behind a forehand, Djokovic ladled a fine drop volley winner that helped him back up the break.

The Wimbledon winner’s biggest stress test came in the eighth game. Djokovic climbed out of a 15-30 hole, thumped his sixth ace down the middle and quieted the uprising with a forehand down the line sealing a seven-minute hold for 5-3.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Banging a backhand down the line, Djokovic earned double match point. Hurkacz saved the first with a delayed serve and volley and swatted an ace to erase the second. A stubborn Hurkacz held firm in the face of match point pressure holding in the ninth game.

Closing time did not faze Djokovic, who converted his fourth match point to charge into the final four with career win No. 996.

 

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