Djokovic Sweeps Past Khachanov, Still Perfect In 2020

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Novak Djokovic confirmed he will remain at No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday by reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Four-time former titlist Djokovic extended his perfect record to 16-0 in 2020 on Thursday night after beating seventh-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-2 in 67 minutes at the Aviation Club.

“I don’t know if I’m playing the best tennis of my career, that’s a big statement, but I’m feeling and playing well,” said Djokovic, who struck 19 winners against Khachanov. “I like the conditions, but in windy conditions it’s not easy to serve and find rhythm. I know it wasn’t Karen’s day, but I think I played a very solid match. I’m trying to be in the present and execute my game plan.”

The Serbian star next faces third-seeded Gael Monfils, whom he leads 16-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. Monfils matched Djokovic’s tour-leading 16th match win of the season (16-2) by defeating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3 in an all-French clash to conclude day four play.

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Djokovic quickly took apart the powerful Khachanov game, breaking the Russian to love with a devastating forehand return down the line for a 3-1 lead. Clever service and groundstroke placement saw Djokovic put 6’6″ Khachanov on the back foot and play reactionary tennis. Djokovic broke for a second time for a 5-1 advantage, but failed to convert one set point in the next game. At the third time of asking, Djokovic sealed with 32-minute set with a deep return off which Khachanov struck a backhand into the net.

Stepping up the court and targeting Khachanov’s backhand reaped dividends for Djokovic in the fourth game of the second set. Djokovic completed his 19th consecutive victory — dating back to last year’s Davis Cup Finals — by giving Khachanov the runaround, resulting in his fourth service break of the pair’s fourth meeting (Djokovic leads 3-1).

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Djokovic helped Serbia clinch the inaugural ATP Cup title and his eighth Australian Open crown in January. He has a 39-6 record in Dubai, including title runs in 2009-11 and 2013.

Monfils extended his career-best winning streak to 12 matches — and 24 consecutive sets — with his 73-minute victory over Gasquet. He converted four of his 19 break point opportunities, as he improved to a 11-7 record against his countryman in their first meeting since 2018 Wimbledon.

The World No. 9 is looking to win his third straight title, following triumphs at the Open Sud de France (d. Pospisil) and ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Auger-Aliassime). Monfils’ only losses in 2020 have come against Djokovic at the ATP Cup and to eventual finalist Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open.

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