Djokovic kicks off Dubai with runaway victory

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Serbian Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Spanish Tommy Robredo during their ATP tennis match on the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

Serbian Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Spanish Tommy Robredo during their ATP tennis match on the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

DUBAI: Novak Djokovic hammered Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-2 at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), winning the 699th match of his career.

“Every milestone is very special, of course. I wish to make the 700th win in this tournament, obviously,” said the world No.1.

He added: “But it’s not going to affect too much my preparation for the next match. It’s not going to change too much the way I approach the next match or this tournament. So of course I’ll be very pleased if it happens here. If not, maybe next one.”

Djokovic one now stands 13-0 this season as he bids for a third 2016 title after trophies in Doha and Melbourne. He last played in the final at Melbourne Park, beating Andy Murray.

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The top seed will next face Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri, who advanced over qualifier Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-1.

“Obviously playing the first match in three weeks, different conditions, I didn’t know how I’m going to start, whether or not I’m going to execute the game plan,” Djokovic said.

“But everything went well, very few things went wrong.

“I was putting constant pressure on his serve. I returned very, very well. I served solid and was aggressive from back of the court. I cannot be happier with this performance. I’m glad to be back with a solid win.”

The 123rd-ranked Jaziri knows his chances against the best in the world will be extremely limited – but he’s not totally without hope.

“It should be a good match. I will try to enjoy it on court and I will play all my chances,” said the 32-year-old North African.

“Novak’s playing his best tennis now, and he’s beating everyone. But I will be on court like all the matches. In tennis you never know. That’s part of this beautiful game. Who knows? Maybe I’ll wake up on a good day.”

Djokovic has played finals at his last 17 events, winning 13.

Jaziri has plenty of previous time on court with Djokovic after practice sessions between the pair.

“In Doha [last January]I practiced with him and in Australia. He’s playing his best level, he’s winning maybe most all tournaments,” Jaziri said.

“I have nothing to lose, you know. But first let’s see him win his match and then we see.”

Djokovic is playing Dubai for a tenth year in succession, now 35-5 in the emirate. He owns Dubai titles from 2009-2011 and 2013; he lost the final to Roger Federer last year.

Popular Marcos Baghdatis delivered the first upset of the week as he put out Serbian fifth seed Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 despite nearly 40 unforced errors.

The Cypriot will next face Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who defeated Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

South Korea’s rising Chung Hyeon made a winning Dubai debut, beating Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4 a day after the Italian turned 32. Canadian Vasek Pospisil defeated Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Marseille winner Nick Kyrgios was due in Dubai later after winning the first title of his career in France over Marin Cilic.

The 20-year-old Australian starts his campaign on Tuesday night, facing Slovak Martin Klizan, winner of the Rotterdam event eight days ago.

AFP

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