Tennis: World No. 1 Djokovic digs deep to beat Verdasco in China

Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia rects after defeating Spaniard Fernando Verdasco of Spain during the China Open tennis tournament at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing, China on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013. Djokovic overcame a second-set blip to beat
Top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia rects after defeating Spaniard Fernando Verdasco of Spain during the China Open tennis tournament at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing, China on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013. Djokovic overcame a second-set blip to beat Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the China Open on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013, keeping alive his hopes of clinging on to his world No. 1 ranking. -- PHOTO: AP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Top seed Novak Djokovic overcame a second-set blip to beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the China Open on Thursday, keeping alive his hopes of clinging on to his world No. 1 ranking.

The defending champion, aiming for his fourth China Open title in five years after missing the 2011 tournament through injury, will lose the top spot next week if Spaniard Rafa Nadal reaches the final in Beijing.

In the quarter-finals, the Serb will face American Sam Querrey, who caused an upset by defeating sixth-seed Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 7-6(2) in 76 minutes.

While much is being made of the No.1 battle the 26-year-old six-time Grand Slam champion insists winning, rather than ranking points, is his sole focus when he takes to the court.

"I try to do what I need to do, and that is to win the matches," Djokovic told a news conference.

"Rankings will change. They change all the time. Over the years it has been the case. But you can't think too much about it. Your job is to win as many matches as possible and the rankings will follow the results that you make."