Djokovic roars into the tennis semifinals

By Matthew Futterman

Novak Djokovic is roaring again.

After three mostly quiet matches at the Olympic tournament, the man chasing the “Golden Slam” started letting out his trademark roars to fire himself up in his 6-2, 6-0 demolition of hometown favorite Kei Nishikori of Japan to reach the semifinals.

Neither Nishikori’s game nor the several hundred credentialed Japanese who came out to support him bothered Djokovic very much. The win put Djokovic nine matches away from achieving the “Golden Slam” — winning the four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. No man has ever achieved the feat.

Djokovic, playing his usual relentless style, had Nishikori on the ropes from the start, breaking his serve at his first opportunity and giving Nishikori few opportunities to draw even the rest of the way. Djokovic played the match like he had a dinner reservation to get to, winning in just 70 minutes.

The roars arrived in the first game of the second set, when Nishikori had his lone chance to break Djokovic’s serve. Djokovic unleashed a forehand winner to draw even and let out the first roar, then unleashed another forehand winner to take the game and screamed once more.

Nishikori had beaten Djokovic in a big spot before, taking him out in the U.S. Open semifinal in 2014, but Djokovic is playing a different style now — and on another level — and he has not lost to Nishikori since then.

Djokovic won nearly twice as many points as Nishikori and gave up just seven points on his second serve. He will face Alexander Zverev in the semifinals today. His most dangerous potential opponent, Daniil Medvedev of Russia, the No. 2 seed, lost Thursday to Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain.

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