Djokovic survived two match points to beat qualifier Ernests Gulbis in a three-set quarter-final, but Chardy fought off seven match points in his marathon 6-7 (9), 7-6 (13), 7-6 (4) quarter-final win over towering John Isner.
The Serbian will take on Jeremy Chardy in the semi-finals of the Montreal Masters after he was pushed all the way by Gulbis.
Murray has once again looked like the two-time Grand Slam victor he is following a rough year-and-a-half stretch that included back surgery and a series of other injuries.
Standing in the way of Williams’ return to the final is Bencic, who has eliminated two former-world number ones, Caroline Wozniacki and former Rogers Cup champion Ivanovic. It was Nishikori’s first win over Nadal in eight attempts.
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. He is also extremely comfortable in this match-up. “He lacks regularity and needs to improve some aspects of his game [such as] movement and foot speed but he’s able to do it”, said Nadal’s assistant coach Francisco Roig. He knows how to play in the big stage, in the big matches. He leads Murray 19-8 and holds a 4-2 record over Nishikori in career rivalries. Nadal had most recently won the Canadian Masters in 2013 however his level of play has dipped significantly since that time.
Somebody has been smoking weed in the stands at Uniprix Stadium, according to Djokovic. “I think I was serving very well tonight”. Whoever it was… he was probably on the seventh sky somewhere.
There had been plenty of speculation about how becoming a husband would affect Murray professionally, with the No. 3 chiming in himself by writing “Marriageworks” on the camera as he proceeded to have the best clay-court run of his career.
“It was good to get a quick win like this”, said Djokovic. In fact, Novak should win the match in straight sets.
“I’m excited about reaching the final“. I’ve played Murray many, many times before on this particular surface. They have met once at a Rogers Cup in 2008, with Murray winning in two sets.
“Took a long time to (beat him), but I’m very happy”.
Beating Djokovic in Sunday’s final would be a huge step towards that goal.
Canadian Milos Raonic won’t be playing doubles in Cincinnati after all.
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The late match of the day did not see completion until well after midnight in Montreal.