AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Ruthless Djokovic steamrolls Ferrer

Fourth seed takes just five games off champion as doubles duo fails to make final

Hung out to dry: David Ferrer bites on his towel during his semifinal match against Novak Djokovic om Melbourne. / MAST IRHAM (EFE)

Spain’s hopes of a finalist at the Australian Open were shattered on Thursday as David Ferrer crashed out to world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic and third-seeded Marcel Granollers and Mark López fell at the semifinal stage of the men’s doubles.

“I didn’t have a chance tonight,” said Ferrer, who will be installed as world number four in the new ATP ranking on Monday. “He played very, very well. He was better than me at every moment.” The usually reliable Ferrer made 32 unforced errors as he succumbed 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 to Djokovic in just 89 minutes. “I’ve never lost like this. Of course I’m not happy with the way I played tonight, but I prefer to play bad in the semifinals than in the first round.”

Djokovic served an early notice of intent with a fizzing forehand drive that nicked the line after Ferrer had played his way into a good position in a rally early in game three — one of 30 winners that would ping from the Serbian’s racket to just 11 from Ferrer. “I was aware of David’s qualities. I wanted to be aggressive on the court and this was definitely one of the best matches of my career,” said the world number one, who dropped just seven points on his own serve while converting seven of seven break point opportunities on Ferrer’s delivery. “I have a great feeling about myself on the court at this moment. Now I have two days off before the final, which gives me enough time to get ready and recover.”

Djokovic will contest Sunday’s final against either Roger Federer or Andy Murray, who meet in the second semifinal on Friday.

While the seeding prognostic for Ferrer was met in bruising fashion, Granollers and López were expected to win through to the final after carving through the lower half of the men’s doubles draw without having to face second seeds Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, who fell at the first hurdle.

The Spanish pair, ranked 10 and six respectively, did not play a seeded team en route to the semifinals and were broadly expected to see off the Netherlands’ Robin Haase, 152, and Igor Sijsling, 327, with little trouble; Haase had two Grand Slam doubles wins to his name coming into Melbourne, while Sijsling had a 0-1 record.

But the Dutch pair have been in inspired form during the tournament, to the detriment of 11th-seeded Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero, as well as 16th seeds Jonathan Marray, a reigning Wimbledon champion, and Andre Sa.

Waiting in the final are the world number one Bryan brothers, who are seeking a record 13th Grand Slam doubles title in their ninth final appearance in Australia in the past 10 years.

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