Djokovic refuses to throw in towel

Novak Djokovic used to have a reputation for frailty, a man who could not be relied upon to last the distance. When he retired in the fourth set of his Australian Open quarter-final in January, it was the eighth time in the Serb's senior career that he had thrown in the towel during a match.

As the 2009 season draws to a close, however, you would not think of questioning the world No 3's durability. Djokovic's 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters here yesterday was his 74th win in 92 singles matches this year.

He has already played 18 more matches than any other player on the main tour – Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Fernando Verdasco are joint second on the list with 74 – and would take his tally for the season to 99 if he won here and successfully defended his title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which begin at the O2 Arena in London next Sunday. Djokovic's recruitment earlier this year of a new fitness coach – Gebhard Phil-Gritsch, who used to work with the famously strong Thomas Muster – is clearly paying dividends.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how much Djokovic has left in the tank for his semi-final today against Nadal. Although the Spaniard has won 14 of their 19 meetings, they are usually hard-fought affairs. Djokovic won the most recent, in Cincinnati three months ago, and kept the Spaniard on court for more than four hours in their penultimate contest at the Madrid Masters in May.

"It's going to be extremely difficult," Djokovic said. "I'll just try to recover physically and get ready for that match. The game that I would like to improve is my serve, which I didn't think was working well today. If my serve works well tomorrow, it will be a big advantage."

No wonder Djokovic admitted that he was feeling tired after reaching the semi-finals here for the first time. Soderling still had a chance of clinching the final place in the eight-man field for London and looked to have turned the match around in the second set, but Djokovic dug deep. Soderling dropped serve when he netted a backhand at 4-4 in the final set and Djokovic completed the job when the Swede missed an attempted drop shot on match point.

With the end-of-season finale in sight, some top players appear happy to make early exits at this stage of the season, but Djokovic said that he gave his best in every match.

"I don't make a difference between tournaments," he said. "I will really always try to get the last piece of energy in my body to win the match. I'm well aware that now I'm not the freshest guy on the tour, but I'll only think about upcoming events when I finish this tournament."

Soderling's defeat and Nadal's 7-5, 7-5 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga handed Fernando Verdasco the last place in the field for London alongside Roger Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko.

Tsonga, who won the title here 12 months ago, had his chances against Nadal. Both men had six break points, but whereas the Frenchman could not convert any the Spaniard twice broke in the 11th game. The world No 2, who came close to losing in his previous two matches, made just eight errors to Tsonga's 37.

In the other semi-final Gaël Monfils or Marin Cilic will play Radek Stepanek or Del Potro, who were meeting in last night's remaining quarter-final matches. Del Potro is closing in on Murray's world No 4 ranking. With substantial points totals to defend between now and the Australian Open, Murray could be overtaken by the Argentinian before next year's opening Grand Slam.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn