Djokovic Continues Title Charge In Dubai
Novak Djokovic maintained his strong record at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Wednesday, soaring into the quarter-finals for the 12th consecutive time.
The World No. 1 has lifted the trophy in Dubai five times and continued his 2022 title bid with a dominant display against Karen Khachanov, downing the Russian 6-3, 7-6(2) in one hour and 38 minutes at the ATP 500 event.
Djokovic made a winning return to the Tour on Monday when he defeated #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the first round. And the Serbian once again showed little signs of rustiness, winning 83 per cent (38/46) of his first-serve points against Khachanov to improve to 5-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“I was feeling excited and motivated,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “But also at the same time I was feeling stressed. Particularly at the moments when I was facing break points. I thought the atmosphere in the stadium was terrific.”
Competing in his first tournament of the season, the 34-year-old will next play Jiri Vesely after the Czech qualifier upset Doha Champion Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4. With his victory, Djokovic has now advanced to at least the quarter-final stage in Dubai every year he has competed at the event since his debut in 2007.
“I missed it [playing competitively]. This is my life,” Djokovic said. “This is what I have known for the past 20 years. Tennis is my love. I enjoying bringing positive energy and memories for people who watch.”
In an entertaining match, Djokovic was in control in the first set, not facing a break point as he moved ahead. He then encountered an attacking bombardment from the Russian in the second set, with Khachanov hammering his groundstrokes to recover from 2-4 to eventually force a tie-break. However, Djokovic refocused and raised his level in the tie-break, sealing his winning with a thunderous return.
Djokovic will be keen to perform well this week in order to retain his No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, which is under threat from Daniil Medvedev (View World No. 1 Scenarios Here). The Russian is in action at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco.
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Earlier, Andrey Rublev recovered from a slow start to overcome Soonwoo Kwon 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes.
The World No. 7 arrived in Dubai in form after capturing his first tour-level title since March 2021 in Marseille last week. In a strong serving performance against Kwon, Rublev fired 15 aces and won 93 per cent (38/41) of points behind his first delivery.
Rublev, who reached the semi-finals in Dubai last season, will next face Mackenzie McDonald in the last eight. The American downed Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 7-6(7).
Denis Shapovalov also advanced, moving past Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-3 in 85 minutes. The 22-year-old has enjoyed a strong start to the season, helping guide Canada to the ATP Cup title, before he reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.
The World No. 14 will next face Ricardas Berankis after the 31-year-old defeated Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 7-6(7).