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Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic advance to ATP semifinals

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The Sports Xchange
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a shot during his second round match against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on November 2, 2016. Djokovic defeated Muller 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the next round. Photo by David Silpa/UPI
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a shot during his second round match against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris on November 2, 2016. Djokovic defeated Muller 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the next round. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Milos Raonic of Canada advanced to the semifinals of the ATP World Tour Finals by winning their final matches in group play in London on Thursday.

Djokovic was scheduled to play Gael Monfils on Thursday, but when Monfils pulled out of the event following Wednesday's matches with a rib injury, alternate David Goffin was sent in against Djokovic. Goffin was not in position to advance in the tournament even if he had beaten Goffin, but ranking points were at stake.

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It did not matter as Djokovic dispatched Goffin with ease 6-1, 6-3 to finish the group stage with a 3-0 record. Raonic, the fourth seed, improved his record in to 2-1 by beating Dominic Thiem 7-6 (5), 6-3.

"Everything has been going, as I said, in a positive direction. I've been playing better and better as I proceed in the tournament. I have now a day of rest," said Djokovic, who finished first in the John McEnroe Group. "I'm looking forward really. It's the last couple matches of the year hopefully. One thing is for sure: I'm going to give it my all on the court and see what happens."

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Goffin has battled Djokovic in close matches in the past, but he was no match for the Serbian star after taking the court on short notice.

"It was a great experience to be here, just to feel the atmosphere, to feel how it is. Even if I didn't play well today, I just played a match in front of the crowd against Novak, it's always a good experience," Goffin said. "It was nice to be part, a little bit, of this tournament. It gives you a lot of motivation for next year. I will try to be part of the tournament, in the top eight. We will see next year, but I will try to do my best."

With the win, Djokovic continues to put pressure on No. 1-ranked Andy Murray as the two battle for the year-end No. 1 ranking.

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Raonic will next play the winner of the Ivan Lendl Group, which would be Murray if Murray beats Kei Nishikori on Friday.

Neither Raonic nor Thiem had a break point in the first set, which went to a tiebreaker.

Thiem won four straight points in the tiebreaker to take a 4-2 lead, but Raonic responded with a four-point run of his own before taking the tiebreaker with an ace.

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Raonic broke Thiem's serve in the first game of the second set, and that was all Raonic needed to serve out the match.

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