Djokovic gets 2nd free ride in Rotterdam Tennis

ROTTERDAM: Novak Djokovic earned a free trip into the semi-finals of the Rotterdam Open on Thursday, benefiting as his second opponent in three matches this week proved unable to take to the court.

Only 48 hours after Sergiy Stakhovsky was unable to complete his first-round contest with Djokovic, German Florian Meyer withdrew with a hamstring tear a day before his Friday quarter-final match with the Serb top seed.

"Of course you never want to get a win this way, but I''ll take it the way it is," said the world number two after moving into the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Swiss Marco Chiudinelli.

"Today''s win was a convenient match for me from the start. I felt confident on my service games and took enough of my opportunities on his. I did what I needed to win and that''s what matters."

The top seed paved the way for a sweep of the leading players into the last eight, with third seed Gael Monfils joining in with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Holland''s Thiemo de Bakker.

Second seed Nikolay Davydenko completed the winning trio with a 6-3, 6-2 defeat of crowd-pleaser Marcos Baghdatis in their second-round clash.

Djokovic met up with world number 54 Chiudinelli three weeks ago, emerging with an Australian Open second round victory.

"I''ve known him for five or six years," said the Serb.

"He beat me in a Challenger in my hometown of Belgrade (2004). He''s a tough player but has been bothered by injuries.

"He seems to be healthy now and doing better."

Djokovic dominated in 90 minutes, never facing a break point while breaking three times against Roger Federer''s best friend in the game.

Russian sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny, the 2007 winner, also advanced easily over Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan 6-4, 6-4. Julien Benneteau earned another victory for France through his defeat of German Michael Berrer 6-4, 6-4.

For 13th-ranked Monfils his defeat of de Bakker was revenge for his loss to the world number 82 in his Davis Cup debut five months ago at home.

"First off, I wanted to win the match," said the 23-year-old Monfils.

"What happened in Davis Cup happened. The revenge came as a bonus.

"I have hopes of winning this tournament, but my next job is to beat Youzhny.

"I had confidence and played much better than the first round here. I played well and it felt good. I just want to keep improving my game. I played solid and was able to run him around a lot, that was my game plan."

The winner kept de Bakker under constant pressure over 76 minutes forcing the home player to save 10 of 13 break points.

Monfils has played two semi-finals this season, at Brisbane and last week in Johannesbourg.

Despite being picked for the French Davis Cup side which face Germany in Tolouse in the March 5-7 first round, Monfils won''t be cutting back on a travel schedule which will quickly clock up a reported 75,000 kilometres in the early part of 2010.

After this week in Rotterdam, he will play from February 22 in Acapulco on clay before returning to France for the Davis date indoors.

"Even if it''s far from Europe and on clay, I will have better chances to win in Acapulco," he said. "All of the top eight are playing that same week in Dubai."