Novak Djokovic avenged his French Open quarterfinal defeat to Marco Cecchinato on Thursday, defeating the Italian in straight sets in the third round of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, 6-4, 6-0.
Djokovic, who had lost to Cecchinato in a four-set thriller in Paris in one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, won 10-of-11 games from down 2-3 in the first set—including the last seven games in a row—to win their Shanghai rematch in 69 minutes. He finished with 20 winners to just 11 unforced errors.
“He’s a tough player to play against. He fights for every ball and plays with more rotation than my first opponent,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I lost to him the last match we played against each other in the quarters of the French Open, so it was a nervous start from both of us—we were feeling the tension—but the break in the seventh game of the first set was crucial. And the second set was perfect.”
The Serb also held all eight of his service games, fighting off the only two break points he faced.
“In these kinds of conditions, where it’s pretty quick on the court, you’re working hard to get as many free points as you possibly can on the serve. It’s a very important element of the game,” he said. “I’m obviously very pleased with those stats, and hopefully I can continue doing so well with the serve.”
The French Open loss was their only previous meeting, and Cecchinato was trying to become just the third player to post multiple wins with no losses against Djokovic (after Marat Safin and Nick Kyrgios).
But instead Djokovic has now won 15 matches in a row and 28 of 30 since that loss to the Italian at Roland Garros, and he’s now through to the quarterfinals of the Masters 1000 stop in Shanghai.
Awaiting the second-seeded Djokovic in the final eight will be seventh-seeded Kevin Anderson, who beat No. 10 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 7-6 (1), for his first win in three career meetings against the Greek.
Djokovic leads Anderson in their head-to-head, 6-1—after losing their first meeting at the Masters 1000 event in Miami in 2008, the Serb has won their last six meetings in a row (and 15-of-17 sets).
Even more daunting for Anderson is that Djokovic has never lost before the semifinals in Shanghai—he’s a flawless 7-0 in quarterfinals here (he’s a three-time champion and four-time semifinalist).
The Serb, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, is also two wins away from taking the No. 2 ranking from Roger Federer in Shanghai—he can pass the Swiss just by reaching the final (even if Federer beats him for the title). Rafael Nadal's No. 1 ranking is safe this week.
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