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Djokovic is no imitation as he beats Moya

Third-seeded Serb looks weary at times but shows his personality in postgame talk by mimicking others. Next up for him at U.S. Open is Ferrer.

September 07, 2007|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Spanish-speaking tennis players have been lined up like dominoes against Novak Djokovic, and they have been flipped over, one by one, since the Serb escaped from his second-round thriller against Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic at the U.S. Open.

There was Juan Martin Del Porto of Argentina, followed by Juan Monaco of Argentina, and on Thursday night, 31-year-old Carlos Moya of Spain.

The third-seeded Djokovic may have looked weary, at times, against Moya but the quarterfinal score line was convincing: 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

Awaiting him in Saturday's semifinals is one more Spanish domino.

But it won't be Rafael Nadal. Instead it's No. 15 David Ferrer, the conqueror of Nadal in the fourth round and the man who beat Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, in an earlier quarterfinal.

For the 20-year-old Djokovic, this is the third straight Grand Slam semifinal appearance this year and his first at the U.S. Open.

"One of the best feelings I ever had in my life is playing here," he said.

His tactical on-court savvy was one thing, but he outdid himself in his post-match floor show with USA Network. He warmed up with his comments on his Serbian supporters when asked what they said: "Well, nobody understands that. . . . Time to time, a little bit too loud."

Djokovic joked about sitting down when the interview went long, saying: "You want to take a seat? We are doing this interview 10 minutes already . . . have a coffee."

Then he brought the house down when interviewer Michael Barkan asked him to perform his vaunted imitations of other players. He perfectly captured Maria Sharapova and then Nadal, and then both players' nervous tics at the service line.

You had to see it to fully appreciate his comedy act, which led to this conclusion: The Serbs, it seems, have cornered the market on personality at the Open.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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