NEWS
08/13/2011 12:30 EDT | Updated 10/12/2011 05:12 EDT

Djokovic, Fish, Tsonga, and Tipsarevic reach Rogers Cup semifinals

MONTREAL - Other stars have fallen, but top-seeded Novak Djokovic keeps rolling along at the men's Rogers Cup.

The world's No. 1-ranked player from Serbia needed just one hour 13 minutes to down fifth-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-2, 6-1 on Friday night to advance to the semifinals of the US$2.43 million Master Series tournament.

In the semifinals on Saturday, the 2007 Rogers Cup champion will face another Frenchman, 13th seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who ousted No. 8 seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4, 6-4.

"I have played the best match of the tournament, no doubt," said the 24-year-old, who is now 15-1 against top-10 players this year. "Everything was going well.

"I'm happy to see my game is progressing each day."

In recent days, star players Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray suffered upsets, but Djokovic looked to be getting stronger each day as he used his overpowering forehand to improve his 2011 match record to 51-1 before a full house at Uniprix Stadium.

Djokovic is now 7-0 in his career against Monfils, but it's a different story with Tsonga, who holds a 5-3 edge in their head-to-head meetings. Their last meeting was at Djokovic's last tournament, Wimbledon, where he edged the hard-serving Frenchman in four tough sets.

"The last match was very close, very intense, very important for both of us," said Djokovic. "He's been playing better in last couple of months.

''He has increased his level. He has a big serve. If he serves well, he can beat anybody. He showed that in previous couple of tournaments. So it's going to be tough one. It's a fast surface. I need to return well and hope that I can get some chances."

Djokovic is now in range of a record fifth ATP Masters 1000 win in a single year.

American Mardy Fish also advanced, but there was an upset as another Serb, Janko Tipsarevic, ousted seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych.

The sixth-seeded Fish survived an error-filled second set to defeat 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-0.

And unseeded Tipsarevic downed Berdych 6-4, 6-4 for his third victory in as many meetings with the Czech righthander.

It will be a first trip to the semifinals of a ATP Masters event for 27-year-old, whose performance this week will also put him into the top-20 of world rankings for the first time. Tipsarevic is currently ranked 24th.

"It means a lot it was a goal," said Tipsarevic of the ranking. "My goals this season were to finish the year top 20 and to win an ATP title.

"The second thing didn't happen for me yet, even though I was close already two times this year (losing finals at Del Ray beach, Fla., and at Eastbourne). I'm happy that the first thing is happening."

Fish and Tipsarevic will meet in the semifinals, with the American carrying a 3-1 career record in their meetings.

"Mardy is a really intelligent player," added Tipsarevic. "He's a typical example of an all-around player that can defend, stay back, be passive, but then go to the net, play serve and volley and completely mix up the game.

"I'm going to focus on me and try to execute the serve and the return part as well as I did today, because on the ground strokes, I'm feeling good for a while now. If I manage to do that, I feel that I have a chance to win."

Tipsarevic is the lesser-known of the Serbian wave of players that includes Djokovic and Victor Troicki, but he has a history of knocking off top players, including three wins over Murray, even if he has never won an ATP Tour tournament.

The university graduate is known as an avid reader, and he gave a tepid review to his current read, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

He spoke of having "positive jealousy" of his compatriot Djokovic, who he will meet in the final if both win.

"It would be a fun, fun moment for Serbia," said Djokovic. "It would be great for both of us.

"We are great friends off the court, Davis Cup colleagues. I'm really happy to see him playing well and winning. He's been struggling a lot with injuries in last two years. Now he really starts to believe in himself. He has the game to compete with the best players in the world and win against them. He showed that. There is another match to come for both of us but hopefully we can have a nice Sunday."

The 29-year-old Fish, whose career turned around after knee surgery and a new dedication to fitness two years ago, has won 10 of his last 11 matches, including a win last month in Atlanta and a loss in the final at Los Angeles two weeks ago.

He has already passed Andy Roddick as the top-ranked American player, a status he will almost certainly take into the U.S. Open, which begins in two weeks.

"But (Roddick) went into the U.S. Open as the leading American for 10 straight years, so just because I go in one year ... you know what I mean?" said Fish. "I've got too much respect for him.

"Even if I felt it, I would never say it. He's too good of a friend. He's one of my best friends in the world. He's handled the brunt of all the questions and all the media and all the pressure his entire career, and I haven't at all. So I'm just hoping to take a little bit away from him."

He added that he just hopes he will handle the pressure and represent his country well.

Fish took the two-hour 22-minute match despite dropping an error-filled second set after he rebounded from a 4-1 deficit. It went to a tiebreaker after neither player was able to hold service over the final four games.

But Fish breezed through the final set to reach his fifth tournament semifinal of the year.

Fish did not win a match in his previous visits to the Rogers Cup in 2003 and 2008. He said it was simply chance that he missed the tournament so many times and wishes he'd played more.

"It's certainly nice to play on those courts because they are pretty quick, and they do suit my game very well," he said. "I can kind of get away with not playing great tennis but still winning."

Tsonga said he was short on energy after the Federer win, so he concentrated on his booming serve and strong returns to avoid long, tiring baseline rallies with Almagro.