Djokovic eases into the last four with third straight win; del Potro beats Tipsarevic to keep his hopes alive

Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna clinched their place in the semifinals of the ATP Tour Finals after winning their Group B shoot-out with second seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor on Friday.

With Jonathan Marray and Freddie Nielsen already certain of making the semifinals from Group B, this clash would decide who qualified in second place and the Indian duo produced a superb performance to win 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10/5 at London’s O2 Arena.

The two teams had faced off four times this year, with two wins apiece, but Bhupathi and Bopanna won their last meeting in Shanghai and they had the edge again in the prestigious season-ending event.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals with a 100 per cent record with a 6-2, 7-6(6) win over Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic had already defeated Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his previous Group ‘A’ matches and the Serb knew he needed only to win one set against Berdych to be sure of qualifying.

The 25-year-old achieved that goal in just over half an hour, but refused to take it easy after that and secured the victory which guaranteed first place in the group and potentially an easier route to the final.

In the process, Djokovic also secured his 73rd match win of 2012, moving him level with David Ferrer as the year’s two most successful players on the Tour. Berdych’s second loss of the tournament eliminated him from the tournament.

Perfect start

Earlier, Bhupathi and Bopanna made the perfect start as they took the first set in a tie-break, but an epic second set lasting 56 minutes went to Belarus's Mirnyi and Canada’s Nestor after another tie-break.

That meant a super tie-break was required to settle the match and Bhupathi and Bopanna seized control, racing into a 9-4 lead before sealing the win on their second match point.

The Indian players, seeded fifth, were making their first appearance together at the Tour Finals, although Bhupathi had qualified on 11 previous occasions with three different partners and finished as runner-up four times.

After winning the Paris Masters doubles crown last week, they will believe they are in good enough form to win Sunday's semifinal — their opponent will be decided on Saturday — and possibly even the title itself.

Easy win

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro crushed Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 6-4 on Thursday to keep alive his hopes of securing a place in the singles semifinals.

After both players lost their opening Group B matches, this clash at London's O2 Arena had become a must-win encounter and it was former U.S. Open champion del Potro who seized his chance to avoid an early exit with a brutal display of power hitting.

del Potro, seeded sixth, has lost just twice indoors in 2012 and he blew Tipsarevic off the court in just one hour and 16 minutes. The Argentine still needs a win against Roger Federer in his final group match on Saturday to reach the last four and even that may not be enough depending on the result of David Ferrer's meeting with Tipsarevic.

At least del Potro still has a chance, unlike Tipsarevic who is destined to crash out after losing both his matches without even winning a set. “I'm so glad to be part of this amazing tournament. I'm trying to play my best tennis,” del Potro said.

“It's not easy to win a set 6-0. Janko was fighting. He’s a very good player,” he added.

Only Federer, Novak Djokovic and Ferrer have amassed more than del Potro's career-high total of 65 match wins this year and, with recent titles in Basle and Vienna on his CV, he is clearly determined to finish the year on a high.

The results: Singles: Group ‘A’: Novak Djokovic bt Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-6(6); Group ‘B’: Juan Martin del Potro bt Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 6-4.

Doubles: Group ‘B’: Mahesh Bhupathi & Rohan Bopanna bt Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10/5.

Doubles: Group 'A': Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan bt Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi & Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5, 6-4.

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