Serbia’s Novak Djokovic cruised into the semifinals of the China Open with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 victory against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco on Friday.
His serve broken three times in the second set, Djokovic came out fighting in the third, and the No. 4-ranked Serb strolled to victory over a weakened Verdasco, who had 19 unforced errors for the match.
“I had ups and downs in today’s match,” said Djokovic. “Verdasco used his chances in the second set when he broke.”
“I saved energy at the end of the second set for the refreshing start of the third and I was fortunate to do so.”
Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Sweden’s Robin Soderling, who beat Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (3), 6-4.
Also making it to the semis were Croatia’s Marin Cilic, who downed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, 6-4, 6-4. Cilic will play the winner of Friday’s later quarterfinal between No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal and Russia’s Marat Safin.
Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first woman to qualify for the semifinals, dispatching fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-3.
Sixth-ranked Kuznetsova faced little challenge overcoming No. 39 Pavlyuchenkova, who on Monday defeated Venus Williams for the second time in a week.
Kuznetsova will face fellow Russian Nadia Petrova, who slogged it out for two hours, 39 minutes before overcoming China’s Peng Shuai, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2.
Elena Dementieva of Russia would meet Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska later Friday, and Marion Bartoli of France plays Russia’s Vera Zvonareva.