Novak Djokovic steps up a gear to breeze past Tallon Griekspoor in Dubai
Novak Djokovic’s return to action at the Dubai Duty Free Championships continued with a straight-sets victory over Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor in the second round.
The world number one played his first match since January’s Australian Open triumph – that took him to a record-equalling 22 grand slam titles – on Tuesday, getting past Czech Tomas Machac in three sets.
And Djokovic followed that up by seeing off Griekspoor, ranked 39th in the world, 6-2 6-3 on Wednesday to move into the quarter-finals.
The Serbian, who had defied a hamstring issue to triumph in Melbourne, claimed each of the opening three games of the contest and secured the first set with a second break.
He took a 5-0 lead in set two, which included emerging triumphant from an epic game on Griekspoor’s serve lasting more than 15 minutes, before the Dutchman hit back with a break to slightly delay Djokovic’s march to victory.
In an on-court interview after the match, Djokovic said: “It’s been a great evening for me tonight.
“Yesterday I really had to work hard to get a win. Tonight I think right from the blocks at the beginning I was sharp, I played definitely better quality tennis than I did last night, and maybe the last three or four games weren’t the best to close the match, but I managed to find the good serve in the end.
“I’m very pleased with the performance, with the way I felt on the court and hopefully things can go in the right direction for tomorrow.
“(It was) much closer to the best level than it was yesterday. I probably didn’t expect to play that well tonight, considering last night’s match, but here we go – every day is a new day, a new opportunity.”
Djokovic also described Griekspoor, 26, as “one of the most improved players on the Tour”, before the 35-year-old added with a smile: “The new generations are coming – but I’m not afraid!”
Defending champion Andrey Rublev saved five match points as he staged a remarkable comeback to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 1-6 7-6 (6) 7-6 (3).
Rublev trailed 1-6 in the second set tie-break before reeling off seven points in a row to level the match and ultimately fought through a tight decider.
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