DUBAI // Novak Djokovic confessed last night to not knowing how he managed to keep alive his dream of winning back-to-back Dubai Tennis Championships. The world No 2 admitted to being clearly second best to the irresistible force of Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic in the early stages of their quarter-final but somehow managed to turn the prospect of a heavy defeat into an emphatic victory.
"I don't know how I got through that match," said Djokovic after his 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 win which earned him a semi-final date tonight against Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis or Germany's Michael Berrer. Djokovic made a veiled attack on his fellow members of the tennis elite who have bowed limply out of this tournament. He did not mention any names but he clearly disapproved of Andy Murray's comments, after his second-round exit, that this was a time for experimenting in advance of more important forthcoming commitments.
"Sometimes maybe we should prioritise the bigger events but we are professionals and we should perform as well as we can in all tournaments," he said. "You carry certain responsibility when you are in the top 5 or top 10 in the world. You cannot just go out there and practise. So I play every match to win and try to give 100 per cent every time I go on court." The other semi-final, beginning at 2pm, will be between Mikhail Youzhny and Jurgen Melzer.
Youzhny, runner-up here three years ago, capitalised on Janko Tipsarevic's exhaustion from the previous night's splendid victory over Andy Murray to win their quarter-final comfortably 6-3, 6-4. Melzer enjoyed a career highlight by overcoming the in-form Croatian Marin Cilic, also in straight sets. @Email:email@example.com