Battling a sore neck and a first-round scare from Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, World number one Novak Djokovic defeated the Spaniard 4-6 6-4 7-6(0) on Friday in the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open. Djokovic is now set to face Canada's Milos Raonic in the finals.

In a fanless Flushing Meadows, the Serbian fired off 14 aces to keep his unbeaten streak in 2020 alive. With the victory, the 17-time Grand Slam winner extended his winning run to 22-0. Djokovic warded off the Canadian at the precursor event to the US Open, which has seen empty stands due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Overcoming an Injury

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic Reuters

Djokovic, who has been struggling with a neck injury and received assistance from a tournament physio in the second set, held on to prevail in the third set as his opponent forced the match into a tiebreak.

He will next take on Raonic, who harnessed his monster serve to upset Greek world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5) 6-3 in their semi-final clash, launching 12 aces and winning 90 percent of his first serves to earn a spot in his 22nd final.

Raonic in Good Spirits

The former World No.3 Raonic faces long odds to beat Djokovic. The latter has triumphed over the 29-year-old in all 10 of their previous meetings.

"I'm moving much better than I definitely have in recent years," he told reporters. "I'm able to play more on my terms and quicker in the points." The pair meet on Saturday in the final of the tune-up event for the US Open, with the Grand Slam starting on Monday.

(With inputs from agencies)