World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is through to the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after a stellar performance on Wednesday, the same day that his good friend, Maria Sharapova, announced her retirement from tennis.
“It was a great performance, I enjoyed [it],” Djokovic said after routing familiar foe Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 6-1. Djokovic is now 12-2 against Kohlschreiber, who upset the Serb last year at Indian Wells.
“The way I played obviously, came out with the right focus, with the right tactics and knowing that Philipp beat me 12 months ago, straight sets in Indian Wells, I needed to approach this match very seriously.”
The top seed was asked about Sharapova, a fellow career Grand Slammer.
“I just heard the news right now. I would like everyone to give her a big round of applause for everything she has done in her career,” he said, taking a moment to applaud with the crowd.
“She deserves it definitely. She’s a great fighter. As dedicated as someone can really be in our sport and the will power and the willingness to kind of overcome all the obstacles she had, especially in the last five, six years with the injuries and surgeries and trying to fight back, come back on court and play on her desired level is truly inspirational to see what mind of a champion she has.
"I’m sorry that it had to end with an injury, but at the same time, she had a fantastic career. She can be proud of herself.”
For a spot in the final four, Djokovic will face No. 7 seed Karen Khachanov. The Serb leads their head-to-head series, 2-1.