Novak Djokovic has ended Bernard Tomic’s impressive run at the Shanghai Masters with a hard-fought quarter-final win over the Australian No.1.
The top-ranked Djokovic had to pull out all stops to take a high-quality, hour-long opening set before finishing off the tiring Tomic 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 to extend his winning streak to 15 matches.
Contesting his ninth quarter-final of the season, Tomic played some inspired tennis to almost snatch the first set from 4-2 down.
He nailed five aces and 18 clean winners, including a breathtaking backhand return down the line to save one of three set points in the tiebreaker, to keep pace with the world No.1.
Tomic could barely believe the supreme level required to challenge the relentless Serb, repeatedly smiling wryly after pulling off an audacious winner.
Under pressure throughout, Tomic eventually succumbed with a backhand error to allow Djokovic to claim the opening set.
The Serb broke Tomic in the first game of the second set and this time there was no coming back for Australia’s world No.20.
Despite the loss, Tomic is set to rise to a fresh career-high 18th in the rankings next week following back-to-back wins over world No.8 David Ferrer and world No.11 Richard Gasquet in Shanghai.
Djokovic, chasing his ninth title of the year, moves on to play either Scottish second seed Andy Murray or Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Earlier on Friday, Rafael Nadal claimed his first top-five scalp in more than a year, defeating world No.4 Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-1 to reach the final four.
Wawrinka missed wildly on his groundstrokes throughout, finishing with 34 unforced errors, after coming off a tough three-set victory over Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals that finished close to midnight the night before.
Nadal, seeded eighth, hadn’t won against a top-five player since last year’s French Open final when he beat Djokovic for his 14th grand slam title.
Nadal will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals after the Frenchman downed South African 12th seed Kevin Anderson 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 6-4.