Novak Djokovic overcame a rain delay and Mario Ancic to secure a place in the semi-finals of the Sydney International today.
The Serb, who is seeded third for next week’s Australian Open, proved too strong for his Croatian opponent, winning 6-3 6-4 in a match which was halted in the second set due to inclement weather.
Djokovic will meet a well-rested Jarkko Nieminen in the last four, the Finn having progressed when scheduled opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to pull out without hitting a ball due to a back injury.
Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open finalist from France, was twice forced to stop for treatment on his back during yesterday’s easy win over Simone Bolelli.
Lleyton Hewitt’s impressive comeback from injury ended at the quarter-final stage after the four-time champion went down to Argentina’s David Nalbandian 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.
The pair traded breaks in the opening set before Nalbandian broke again and opened up a 5-3 lead.
But Hewitt fought back and held a set point at 6-5, only for the fourth seed to force a tie-breaker, which he dominated to claim the first set.
The second set was a similar story with Nalbandian racing out to an early 3-0 lead, before Hewitt again dug deep to level at 5-5.
However, he could not keep the momentum going and Nalbandian broke again to close out the match and move into a semi-final match-up with Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who beat Jeremy Chardy 6-2 7-6 (7-4).
Despite the loss, Hewitt still took a lot of positives out the match and was happy with his performance against the world number 11.
“He’s a step up in class to the two other guys that I played this week,” Hewitt said after the match.
Hewitt made his long-awaited return in the Hopman Cup last week and has now played the last three days in Sydney and the match practice should put him in good stead for the best-of-five-set matches at next week’s Australian Open.
“Yeah, you’ve got to be ready to play five sets. That’s a long time, to grind it out for five sets. In the past I’ve probably had my best tennis over five sets,” he said.
“I’m as ready as I think I thought I’d ever be coming into this situation. I never really knew what to expect, especially before the Hopman Cup, going in there after so many months out.”