Tennis: 'Intense' Djokovic closes in on 700th win

Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Tommy Robredo during their first round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships.
Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Tommy Robredo during their first round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships.PHOTO: EPA

DUBAI • After a three-week break, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic's dominance resumed as he hammered Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-2 at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.

The Serbian star now stands 13-0 this season, as he bids for a third 2016 title after trophies in Doha and Melbourne in the Australian Open.

He last played in the final at Melbourne Park, beating Andy Murray.

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

"I may have looked calm from the outside, but there is a lot of intensity inside," Djokovic said after advancing in 65 minutes. "There are emotions, moments of confidence and doubts.

"It's important to remain positive. I came here a few days ago and trained hard to get ready. I'm glad to be back with a solid win."

Victory over 123rd-ranked Jaziri will be his 700th career win.

"Every milestone is very special, of course," added the Serb, who surrendered just seven points on serve against Robredo, breaking the Spaniard four times.

"I wish that I make the 700th win in this tournament, obviously. But it's not going to affect too much my preparation for the next match."

The 11-time Grand Slam champion is an additional two wins away from yet another record.

He has featured in 17 consecutive finals - winning 13 - and an 18th would overtake Federer's streak in 2005-06 and equal Ivan Lendl's mark set in 1981-82.

Djokovic is playing in Dubai for the 10th year in succession, and is now 35-5 in the emirate.

He owns Dubai titles from 2009-2011 and 2013; he lost the final to Roger Federer last year.

Jaziri knows his chances will be extremely limited - but he is 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, who has plenty of previous time on court with Djokovic after practice sessions between the pair.

"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."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline ''Intense' Djokovic closes in on 700th win'. Print Edition | Subscribe