Sat, Nov 05, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Djokovic’s form returns in crushing win

AFP, BASEL, Switzerland

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Poland’s Lukasz Kubot in their round-of-16 match at the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

Novak Djokovic crushed Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-2 as the top seed at the Swiss Indoors showed on Thursday that his untouchable form is rapidly returning after six weeks out with injury.

Djokovic, who had struggled in his opening match over three sets, was absolutely untroubled by the Polish qualifier ranked 64th in the world, going through to the quarter-finals in just 54 minutes.

“Today was a really comfortable match,” the world No. 1 said. “I felt good on court. I’m happy to be playing better. This was the goal, I expected that I would struggle with rhythm after not playing for six weeks, but I have no complaints with my game. It was a good performance and I’ll try to do better tomorrow [Friday].”

Djokovic lifted his impressive record this year to 66 wins and three defeats as he won again after overcoming a back injury that he called the worst of his career.

“I’m not 100 percent and to be honest I don’t expect to get there this week, I would be surprised if I did. I only started serving a few days before my first match and I could tell I was lacking rhythm on second serve, but it was getting better today,” he said. “I need to stay positive and increase the rhythm and intensity of each match.”

The champion in 2009 and a losing finalist against Roger Federer last year, Djokovic is scheduled to face Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who booked his last-eight ticket on Wednesday.

Elsewhere on Thursday, seventh seed Andy Roddick lost his serve three times in the first set, but recovered to put out Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. The victory moves Roddick into a quarter-final with four-time champion Roger Federer.

The pair last met in the semi-finals in Basel a year ago, with the Swiss winning in straight sets. The quarter-final will be their fourth meeting in Federer’s hometown since 2001.

“It is what it is,” Roddick said of the contest. “There won’t be any surprises, neither of us are likely to worry. It will be about who executes better.”

In-form Florian Mayer followed up a third-round upset of Rafael Nadal in Shanghai with a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Ivan Ljubicic.

“I’m surprised by this win, but I have so much confidence from beating Nadal. I know on my best game I can defeat anyone,” 22nd-ranked German Mayer said.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori continued his Shanghai momentum after a run to the semi-finals in China.

The 21-year-old, who stands as Asia’s best-ranked player with a No. 32 ranking, easily overcame Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

The week ended early for James Blake of the US, with the 31-year-old exiting at the hands of Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-4.

VALENCIA OPEN

AFP, VALENCIA, Spain

Second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, ranked No. 8 in the world, was beaten 7-6, (7/5), 6-2 in the second round of the Valencia Open on Thursday by world No. 116 Sam Querrey of the US.

The defeat is a severe blow to Tsonga’s chances of taking one of the three remaining berths in the ATP World Tour Finals in London later this month.

Tsonga was the No. 2 seed in Valencia and the shock win for Querrey means he is now scheduled to face Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.

Del Potro won the final second-round game on Thursday evening, beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4, and while he is currently ranked No. 11 in the world, further success in Valencia could mean he advances toward a place in London at the expense of Tsonga and world No. 9 Nicolas Almagro, who was a first-round loser.

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