Djokovic Begins Quest For Fourth Shanghai Crown

Serbian star set to face Cecchinato or Chung in third round

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters on Tuesday by beating France's Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-5 in 84 minutes for a place in the third round. The Serbian star, victor at the Qi Zhong Stadium in 2012-13 and 2015, is 27-2 since a Roland Garros quarter-final exit. He will next look to extend his 14-match winning streak against Italian No. 16 seed Marco Cecchinato, the player Djokovic lost to at the Paris major, or last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung.

“Both of these players won against me, the last time we met," said Djokovic, who lost to Chung at the Australian Open in January. "I think I'm [a] completely different player than I was in first, five, six months of the year. Hopefully the outcome can be different, as well.

“I'm very grateful to play on a high level. I think that I'm very close to my best, you know, and [my] ‘best’ changes day to day. I can always strive to be the best I can be on that given day. Today's performance was pretty close to that."

If Djokovic, who is now 41-10 on the season, reaches the Shanghai final on Sunday, the Serbian will also pass Roger Federer at No. 2 in the ATP Rankings. If Djokovic captures his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week, he will move to just within 35 points of the absent Rafael Nadal (7,480) in the battle for year-end No. 1.

Consistent groundstroke depth from second seed Djokovic kept Chardy on the backfoot and needing to take risks in the 34-minute opener. Djokovic won 14 of his 17 first-service points against Chardy, who committed 13 unforced errors — and finished with a forehand mistake — in the first set.

Djokovic needed to bide his time in the second set, but converted his second match point chance when Chardy struck a forehand long in the 13th game. He is now 12-0 lifetime against Chardy in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and 63-2 overall against Frenchmen since November 2010.

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So far this year, Djokovic has lifted two Grand Slam championship crowns at Wimbledon (d. Anderson) and the US Open (d. Del Potro), in addition to the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Federer), which helped him become the first player to win all nine Masters 1000 events since the start of the series in 1990. The 31-year-old also finished as runner-up at the Fever-Tree Championships in London (l. to Cilic).

Djokovic has also booked his place at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, joining Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro and Federer at the prestigious season finale. Buy Your London Tickets

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