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Madrid Open: Djokovic downs Hurkacz to reach semifinals

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Madrid, May 6 (IANS) Maintaining the quest for his first title of the season, World No 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4 to reach his seventh Madrid Open semifinal, here on Friday.

Djokovic 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 Head-to-Head series record against Hurkacz to 4-0.

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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 ATP Rankings from Monday, before he received a walkover from Andy Murray.

The top seed will face World No 3 Rafael Nadal or Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in what will be his 72nd ATP Masters 1000 semifinal. Only Nadal (76) has reached the last four at a Masters 1000 event more than him.

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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, the World No 1 looked comfortable on Manolo Santana Stadium as he dominated the forehand exchanges, with Hurkacz unable to hit through Djokovic. 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.

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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.

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 ATP Rankings.

–IANS

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