x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Tennis round-up: Djokovic takes positive after long match

In other matches, Williams and Sharapova move to next round at Montreal.

Novak Djokovic is considered a favourite to win at hard-court tournaments. Anthony Devlin / Reuters
Novak Djokovic is considered a favourite to win at hard-court tournaments. Anthony Devlin / Reuters

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic warmed up his hard-court game on Wednesday with victory in his opening match at the Toronto ATP Masters.

World No 1 Djokovic, who beat Roger Federer in five sets in last month’s Wimbledon final, needed almost two and three-quarter hours to extend his winning run to 10 matches as he beat Frenchman Gael Monfils, with the top seed reaching the third round after a 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 victory.

Djokovic, married last month, was playing for the first time since his All England Club triumph.

“I tried to take the positives from this long match, obviously the fact that I stayed over two and a half hours on the court and I have not played an official hard-court match since Miami finals [in March],” Djokovic said.

“That obviously helps to play a little bit more, to feel the court, to feel the conditions. I’m not feeling tired. I’m not exhausted. I haven’t played a tournament for four weeks. I of course look forward to compete more.”

The Serb did have to struggle with the flashy Monfils, who put the Serbian under pressure with a break in the third set for a 3-1 lead.

The top seed got the break back a game later but showed his frustration as Monfils won a nine-minute 11th game, saving three break points to hold for 6-5.

Monfils was two points from completing the upset at 6-5 30-30, but Djokovic held on to force the tiebreaker in which he seized a 5-2 lead and converted on his first match point with a forehand winner.

He goes through to a meeting with French 13th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat countryman Jeremy Chardy 7-6, 6-4.

“I showed good stuff today, I think I was happy,” Monfils said. “This can just motivate me to work harder. Next time I will try to maybe be a bit further [along] and maybe beat him.”

Djokovic is bidding to become the third player, after Federer and Nadal, to win at least 20 Masters 1000 titles. He has claimed five of the last six he has contested.

Williams concedes she can improve after win

Even a rain delay barely slowed defending champion Serena Williams in her 6-0, 6-2 progress past Samantha Stosur on Wednesday at the WTA hardcourt tournament at Montreal.

Williams, the world No 1 and top seed, had seized the first set and they were knotted at 1-1 in the second when rain halted play.

The American showed no ill-effects when they returned to the court, wrapping up the victory over the unseeded Australian in 58 minutes.

“I’ve just been working on some things, working hard,” Williams said. “Hopefully they’ll come together. I’ve just been waiting.”

Williams stretched her career record over Stosur to 7-3. The Australian stunned Williams in the final of the 2011 US Open, but Williams has now won all three of their meetings since.

Williams still found flaws she wants to improve.

“My toss was a little everywhere. I think I wasn’t as relaxed as I wanted to be,” Williams said. “But there’s always room for improvement. Always keep that in mind, that I can continue to improve. So that’s one thing that I definitely want to work on.”

Sharapova ‘happy to get through’ first round

French Open champion Maria Sharapova had to rally for a three-set victory over Garbine Muguruza to reach the third round.

The fourth-seeded former world No 1 fought back to beat the rising Spanish talent 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to set up a meeting with another Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro, who was a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Czech Karolina Pliskova.

Sharapova, playing her first match since a surprise fourth-round exit at Wimbledon, was a runner-up at this event in 2009 when it was held in Toronto.

She was pleased to get her campaign off to a winning start against a player who won her first career singles title at Hobart this year and has four career wins over top-10 players on her resume.

“It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been in that competitive atmosphere,” Sharapova said. “It’s always quite different, no matter how much you train, you try to prepare for that.

“Once you step on the court, you feel a little bit more from the crowd, the energy. You get inspired by everything. But you’re ultimately a bit rusty.

“I was just happy that I got through that and won today because I had a very tough opponent.”

Sharapova had rallied from a set and 5-4 down to beat Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the French Open.

This time, too, Muguruza gained the early momentum, going up a set and a break before the Russian superstar stormed back, winning four of five games to force a third set that she dominated.

“I was happy that I was able to turn it around,” Sharapova said. “I didn’t feel good. I made a lot of errors in the first set. When you’re able to finish stronger than your start, that’s always a positive because you give yourself an opportunity to keep playing in the tournament.”

Kerber knocks Wozniacki out

Sixth-seeded German left-hander Angelique Kerber made short work of France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-1 and 11th-seeded former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki steamrolled Czech Klara Koukalova 6-1, 6-2.

Kerber has reached, and lost, four finals this season, including losing to Williams in the final at Stanford on Sunday.


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