Djokovic finds his vintage form in straight-set win over Khachanov

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Novak Djokovic faces Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. (AP)

A dialed-in Novak Djokovic cruised into the 10th Wimbledon quarterfinal of his career—and his 41st Grand Slam quarterfinal—with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 fourth-round win over Karen Khachanov on Monday.

After having to fight back from a set down to win his last match against No. 21 seed Kyle Edmund, the No. 12-seeded Djokovic had another shaky start—he lost serve in the first game of the match—but he broke back right away and was never really in trouble again in the one-hour, 45-minute contest.

“I like Karen as a player and as a person a lot,” Djokovic said after the match. “We have respect for each other. We practice together quite often. I don’t think I’d ever faced him before—but knowing his game, practicing with him a lot, I kind of prepared myself for what was potentially coming from him.”

Djokovic finished with more than twice as many winners as unforced errors, 29 to 12. Khachanov, meanwhile, hit 19 winners to 22 unforced errors, with one last backhand into the net on match point.

“I made him always play an extra shot—I don’t think he liked that,” Djokovic added. “He has a powerful game—big serve, big forehand—also his backhand is great for this surface, especially because he hits it very flat. He’s a big guy, a powerful guy. He’s working his way up the rankings.

“I think if he continues to play this way, he has a good chance to get to the Top 10.”

WATCH—Match point from Djokovic's win over Khachanov: 

A three-time Wimbledon champion in 2011, 2014 and 2015, Djokovic is now through to the last eight for the 10th time in his career here and, by reaching his 41st Grand Slam quarterfinal, he’s tied with Jimmy Connors for second-most Grand Slam quarterfinals in the Open Era (Roger Federer has 53).

Standing between Djokovic and the semifinals will be 24th-seeded Kei Nishikori, who edged qualifier and former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis earlier in the day, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (10), 6-1.

Djokovic leads Nishikori in their head-to-head series, 13-2, and even more daunting is that Djokovic has won their last 12 meetings in a row. Nishikori does have a win over the Serb at a Grand Slam, though—he beat Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2014 US Open (when the Serbian was world No. 1).

“He’s an established, top player,” Djokovic said of Nishikori. “He’s struggled with injuries a little bit, but whenever he’s fit, he can really beat anybody in any tournament. He’s proven that in the past. He’s a big match player. He doesn’t get affected too much by the big occasions—on the contrary, he actually delivers his best. So that’s what I expect him to do. Hopefully we can have a good match.”

“He’s always a big war for me. It’s always a big challenge,” Nishikori said of Djokovic. “Maybe I don’t have a good record with him, but I always enjoy playing him. He’s one of the best players on the tour.

“It’s going to be a new match for both of us.”

Strokes of Genius is a world-class documentary capturing the historic 13-year rivalry between tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is timed for release as the anticipation crests with Roger as returning champion, 10 years after their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship – an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true winner was the sport itself.


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