Djokovic gets past pesky Ferrer
After dominating a hard-fought opening set, the world No 2 was outplayed in the second and had to overcome a few wobbles on his way to wrapping up the match in 2 hours, 31 minutes.
Leading 3-1 in the deciding set, Djokovic allowed his Spanish rival to break back to 3-3 before serving to take a 4-3 lead.
Despite some resistance from Ferrer in a thrilling eighth game, Djokovic broke back when he sent a powerful drive past the Spaniard and into the corner to take a 5-3 lead.
Ferrer, ranked fifth in the world, was equally defiant in the final game, but after saving two break points, the Spaniard capitulated when he netted what looked like an easy return.
Raonic claimed his last-four spot with a commanding 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 quarter-final win over Jeremy Chardy.
Raonic, considered an outside bet for the French Open later this month, said his next challenge would prove difficult, whichever player he met.
“If I can control the centre of the court, if I can really be the one dictating and take care of my service, it’s going to be very important,” Raonic said.
Also reaching the last four was Grigor Dimitrov, who celebrated his 23rd birthday with a win when 36-year-old Tommy Haas retired after losing the first set 6-2.
Haas cited a shoulder injury for the withdrawal, spoiling a match-up between the youngest and oldest players in the top 20.
Dimitrov’s semi-final opponent will be either seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal or Wimbledon winner Andy Murray.
“It’s definitely one of the most memorable days of my life,” Dimitrov said upon reaching his first Masters series semi-final. “I’m just a happy birthday boy today.”
Sara Errani took advantage of a supportive crowd to beat second-seeded Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals for the second consecutive year. The 10th-seeded Errani is attempting to become the first Italian woman to win the tournament since Raffaella Reggi took the title 29 years ago at Taranto.
Li was unusually inconsistent, committing 52 unforced errors to Errani’s 21, and appeared rattled by a close call from the chair umpire early in the third set.
Errani celebrated by waving her arms to incite the crowd.
Her semi-final opponent will be either 2007 and 2008 Rome champion Jelena Jankovic or third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
Also moving on was 11th-seeded Ana Ivanovic, who defeated Carla Suarez Navarro, the 13th seed, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
The Italian Open is the last key warm-up before the French Open starts in nine days.
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Published: May 16, 2014 04:00 AM