World number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia battled into the ATP/WTA Western & Southern Open men’s singles final on Friday and will play against Milos Raonic of Canada for the title.
Djokovic fended off apparent neck discomfort to beat eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (0) in three hours in the semifinal and now is 22-0 in the season.
“It was a very strange match, I must say. I don’t know how I won it, to be honest. He was the better player,” Djokovic said. “I just didn’t feel good on the court at all, in any aspect of my game and of the body. But somehow I managed to pull this one through.”
“It’s a balance between patience and playing with controlled aggression. You just have to put a lot of variation in the game. He’s a very consistent player,” Djokovic added.
The 33-year-old will play former world number three Raonic in the final on Saturday. Raonic got past fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the other semifinal.
“Raonic has a huge serve,” Djokovic said. “He’s playing well, he’s confident and let’s hope for a good final.”
Djokovic leads the pair’s head-to-head series 10-0.
In women’s singles, former world number one Naomi Osaka of Japan moved into her first final of the year after a straight-set semifinal victory over No.14 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium.
“This is my first tournament back from quarantine,” Osaka said. “So I’m happy that I’m in the final.”
In Saturday’s final, Osaka will take on another former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who eliminated No.8 seed Johanna Konta of Britain in three sets.
In women’s doubles, China’s Xu Yifan and American Nicole Melichar defeated Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia and Iga Swiatek of Poland 6-4, 7-5 to make the final. They will play against Kveta Peschke from the Czech Republic and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands for the title.
Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain and Australian Alex De Minaur will face British duo Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski in the men’s doubles final.