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Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic reach Cincinnati semis

- Associated Press - Friday, August 17, 2012

MASON, Ohio — The semifinals of the Western & Southern Open feature a reprise of the Olympic bronze medal match.

Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the semifinals in straight sets on Friday, setting up a rematch from the Olympics. Del Potro beat Djokovic on Wimbledon's grass to win the bronze, the first of four medals for Argentina.

They'll go at it again Saturday on the hard courts in suburban Cincinnati. And del Potro is looking forward to it.

"I always like to play against them," the Argentine said, referring to the top players. "It's also a big challenge to see how my level is against them on hard courts."

Djokovic knocked off Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2, reaching a Masters semifinal for the second straight week. He won the Rogers Cup in Toronto last Sunday.

Del Potro defeated France's Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 6-3 in the opening match Friday. His biggest concern has been a sore left wrist that he'll have examined before the U.S. Open, which he won in 2009.

The right-hander missed most of the 2010 season while recovering from surgery on his right wrist. The doctor who performed that surgery will look at the other one following the Cincinnati tournament.

"The good thing: I'm not getting worse, so I can play," he said. "But anyway, I want to wait (for) what the doctor says because I have experience on my other wrist."

After winning his bronze, del Potro went to Toronto and got knocked out in the first round of the Rogers Cup. He's still trying to get his game back to a championship level.

"I'm still feeling a little difference between the top players and me," he said. "But I know I'm getting closer very slowly, so that's important. I'm working for that."

He put Chardy on the defensive right away and didn't give him a chance to get into the match. Chardy survived 13 break points, including three match points, before losing on a long return.

Chardy got into the tournament as an injury replacement for John Isner, who has a sore back. He beat Andy Roddick and Andy Murray, becoming the first injury replacement to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP tournament this season.

Djokovic was fresh on Friday, having spent only a half-hour on court the previous day. Russia's Nikolay Davydenko had to quit after losing the first set 6-0 on Thusday night because of a sore shoulder and interfered with his serve.

Top-ranked Roger Federer was scheduled for the night match.

Rain interfered with two singles matches on Thursday night, forcing tournament organizers to juggle the schedule.

Sixth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki was down a set to Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova when the rains came. Pavlyuchenkova finished off a 6-4, 6-4 win Friday morning, then had eight hours to rest before playing a quarterfinal match against fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova.

No. 9 Li Na's match against Sweden's Johanna Larsson was postponed before they could take the court Thursday night. Li needed only 64 minutes to win 6-2, 6-2 on Friday morning, leaving her less than seven hours to get ready for her quarterfinal match against top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

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