Djokovic Solid On Serve Ahead Of Toronto Rain
Serbian star awaits the winner of seventh seed Thiem or Tsitsipas
Four-time former champion Novak Djokovic once again put together a solid service performance at the Rogers Cup to book his place in the third round on Wednesday.
The ninth-seeded Serbian, who has now won 21 of his past 24 matches, knocked out Toronto resident and wild card Peter Polansky 6-3, 6-4 over 85 minutes in the first match of the day on Centre Court. Twenty minutes after the match ended, heavy rain suspended play.
Djokovic will now prepare to face seventh-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem or Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Djokovic leads Thiem 5-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including wins in all three of their hard-court meetings, but Thiem has won their past two matches on clay at Roland Garros in 2017 and at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April. Djokovic has not played Tsitsipas.
Having started the year with a 6-6 record, Djokovic has since gone 21-3 (27-9 overall) and this week in Toronto marks his first tournament since lifting his fourth trophy — and 13th Grand Slam championship — at Wimbledon on 15 July. He is currently in fifth position in the ATP Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held from 11-18 November at The O2.
Former World No. 1 Djokovic worked his way into the match against Polansky by cutting down on early groundstroke errors. He dropped his opening two service points, but found success behind 12 of his next 14 deliveries. Polansky played a patient game, but at 3-4, the Canadian made four straight errors — finishing his service game with a second double fault — to be broken and give Djokovic the initiative. Djokovic won 15 of his 18 first-service points in the 34-minute opener.
Djokovic needed to bide his time in the second set, converting his fifth break point opportunity of the ninth game when Polansky struck a forehand long. Djokovic, who hit seven aces and committed 29 unforced errors, advanced to the third round after Polansky hit a backhand return wide.
When asked about Djokovic’s qualities, Polansky said, “He raises his level on the big moments. I only got one free point on a 30-All or deuce or break point. But what I found trickiest out there was just his serve locations. He doesn’t have the biggest serve, but he’s putting every serve on the line, or an inch from the line, every time.
“When we got into those baseline rallies, I felt really good. I felt like whoever had the first cut was just going to take the point. I felt like we were actually trading baseline points… Even when I was able to get a forehand, I felt in control, which has given me some confidence against a Top 10 player.”
The 31-year-old Djokovic, who has compiled a 37-6 record at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament since his title-winning debut in 2007, also lifted the trophy in 2011-12 and 2016. Overall, the Serbian has won 30 Masters 1000 crowns (30-14 record in finals).