Novak Still Perfect In Beijing

Novak Djokovic extends unbeaten run in Beijing

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic improved to a perfect 26-0 at the China Open after downing wild card Ze Zhang 6-2, 6-1 in Beijing on Thursday. With his victory, the five-time champion tied with Jimmy Connors for the second-best start at an ATP World Tour event in the Open Era. Only Rafael Nadal’s 31-0 start at Roland Garros is better.

The Serbian was clinical in the 55-minute encounter, winning 84 per cent of his first-serve points and his aggression proved telling, hitting 21 winners to his Chinese opponent’s six, while winning 12 of 13 points at net.

Djokovic brought up match point against Zhang with an inside-out forehand winner down the line and sealed it on his first chance when he put away a backhand volley.

"The conditions are definitely suitable to my game," said Djokovic. "I feel very pleasant playing on the center court. I guess as I keep coming back each year with that positive record, obviously gives me more confidence knowing that I played so well in the past on this court. I just keep on going. That's all. There is no particular reason. There are a few things that play in my favour." 

Next up for Djokovic will be sixth seed John Isner, who battled back from the brink to beat Australian qualifier John Millman 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Millman served for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but Isner broke back to 15 before levelling the match in the tie-break. The American then secured a break at the start of the third set to roll to victory in just over two hours, firing 21 aces.

Djokovic leads Isner 7-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has won their past four meetings. Isner is looking to claim his third Top 10 win of the season and reach his fifth ATP World Tour semi-final. 

Fabio Fognini also progressed to the quarter-finals after his 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 upset of No. 7 seed David Goffin. In the first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, the Italian – a two-time finalist this season in Rio de Janeiro and Hamburg – finished with 21 winners to book a clash with Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.

The 28 year old landed his best result at a Grand Slam event at this year’s US Open, where he snapped a nine-match hard-court losing streak and defeated Nadal en route to the fourth round. 

Goffin, himself a two-time finalist this season – in ’s-Hertogenbosch and Gstaad – reeled off four straight games from 2-all in the second set and looked to have turned the match around before Fognini landed the early break for 2-1 in the decider. He secured the double break and served it out with an ace after one hour and 32 minutes.

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