Perfect 20 For Djokovic; Troicki Up Next
by Matt Fitzgerald|
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic became just the third player in the past 30 years to open a season with a 20-0 mark as he defeated James Blake 6-2, 6-0 in a third-round match Sunday night at the Sony Ericsson Open.
Only John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl have posted longer winning streaks to start a season since 1980; McEnroe ran off 39 straight victories in 1984 and Lendl won 25 in a row in 1986.
It’s an extraordinary feat, but not something the 23-year-old Djokovic is concentrating on. “To be honest, I'm taking it one match at a time and trying to win against the opponent that I have today and not thinking about what happened or what can happen,” said the Serbian, following his win over Blake.
After taking Djokovic to deuce on the Serbian’s opening service game, Blake would not have another chance in the match, winning just 22 per cent of his return points. Everything was clicking for the second-seeded Djokovic and he raced away after breaking Blake in the fourth game of the first set to lead 3-1. The American would win one more game, but at 4-2, Djokovic ran the table, winning eight straight games to ultimately triumph in 52 minutes.
When asked about any areas of his game that may call for improvement, Djokovic joked about the need to sharpen his drop shot, but attributed the upgrading of his first serve as a confidence boosting shot. “I have been working really hard on my serve in the last ten months, and now it's coming back to me,” he said.
“I have been really trying to use that serve and trying to get some free points out of it, and tonight it was working really great. I think I'm quite a complete player. My game is based obviously on the baseline, but I need that serve so I can get more free points and put a lot of pressure on my opponent. That's where I'm getting lately, so I'm happy with that.”
A familiar face stands in the way in the fourth round, his close friend and Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki, a player he’s known since they were nine years old. Djokovic has swept their past eight meetings after Troicki won their first encounter four years ago in Umag. The two have played twice this year already, including last week at the same stage at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, where Djokovic routed his countryman 6-0, 6-1.
Although Djokovic has dominated their head-to-head series, Troicki does have something on the two-time Australian Open champion. “The first tournament in my life that I played, I won my first match and then I lost to him. And he gave me a bagel. It was 9 0. I still have a video of that match, and we still joke around a little bit,” laughed Djokovic.
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