On Friday night, the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank almost lost its three-time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the quarterfinals.
He was up against an inspired and sometimes utterly unbelievable Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. But the world no.1 clinched the win in three sets (5-7, 7-6 (7), 6-1) after over two hours of intense combat. Djokovic had to save two match points at 6-4 in the second-set tiebreak to stay alive.
Gulbis got up 7-5, 3-2 and a break when the world no. 1—who’s lost only three matches in 2015—turned things around. Even in the tiebreaker, Gulbis seemed to be cruising to victory before nerves cost him the set and the match. In the third, Gulbis was broken three times and the die was cast. For the world no.87, Montréal has been an exquisite and exhausting journey. The qualifier was playing in his sixth match this week.
“Very lucky,” recognized Djokovic. “He was better than I was tonight but I pulled through. I’m not really sure how. Thank you to the crowd and congratulations to him,” said Djokovic, with the humility of a champion.
Today’s match was the players’ seventh meeting and Djokovic’s sixth win. Many of their duels have been hotly disputed battles.
In the semifinals, Djokovic will face the surprising Jérémy Chardy of France, who ousted Ivo Karlovic and John Isner in quick succession.