AFPSHANGHAI (AFP-Jiji) — Imperious Novak Djokovic declared that he was “a completely different player” from the first half of this year after he beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-5 to roll into the third round of the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday.
The rejuvenated Serbian second seed has now won all 12 matches against Chardy and this victory was never in doubt. The 31-year-old Djokovic had to contend with a more stubborn Chardy in the second set, before the world No. 3’s superior shot-making won through in 83 minutes.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion missed six months of competition in 2017 and had elbow surgery in February.
But he has burst back to form and fitness since the summer, winning Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Masters 1000 Cincinnati, and said he is back close to his best.
Said Djokovic, who is eyeing Rafael Nadal’s No. 1 ranking: “I haven’t won too many matches the beginning of the year.
“After the surgery I was not managing to play my best, and that has changed, so obviously the more you win, the more comfortable and more confident you feel on the court.”
The Serb will play either Italy’s Marco Cecchinato or South Korea’s Chung Hyeon next — he lost to both during his darker days in the first half of the year.
“I think I’m a completely different player than I was in first five, six months of the year,” he said. “Hopefully the outcome can be different as well.”
In the absence of the injured Nadal, holder Roger Federer is the top seed in Shanghai and the Swiss great starts his campaign on Wednesday against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
Nikoloz Basilashvili showed that his China Open triumph at the weekend was no fluke as he brushed aside the promising Denis Shapovalov.
The Georgian, up to a career-high 23 in the world following his victory over Juan Martin del Potro in Beijing on Sunday, beat the Canadian teen 6-2, 6-2 in just 57 minutes.
Li, Ivanisevic top fan Hall vote
NEW YORK (AFP-Jiji) — China’s Li Na, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 2, won a fan vote announced Tuesday, boosting her chances of joining the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
French two-time Grand Slam singles winner Mary Pierce and former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia also enhanced their chances of being inducted into the sporting honor roll next year.
The Hall of Fame’s first fan vote, which drew ballots from 130 nations during a six-week submission period, will be considered when deciding among eight nominees on the ballot for induction into the 2019 class.
Inductees will be announced at the Australian Open on Jan. 22 with enshrinement on July 20 at the ATP Hall of Fame tournament in Newport, R.I.
Vote totals were not revealed but Li won the balloting with Ivanisevic second and Pierce third.