“I changed the technique of my serve a little bit. I was forcing it too much because of the injury I have. I’ve carried it since the US Open and I’m still afraid something is going to happen. My rhythm with the serve is not good right now. (…) I dont think that i will be able to practice in the next days.”
World No. 1 and former champion Novak Djokovic cruised into the Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals on Thursday when he beat Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.
Djokovic, the 2009 titlist (d. Federer) and 2010 runner-up, won the first set in 26 minutes, dropping just four of 20 points on serve and converting two of four break point opportunities. The 24-year-old Serbian lost five points in winning the first four games of the second set, before Kubot hit four winners to break Djokovic’s streak of games. Minutes later, Djokovic improved to 4-0 lifetime against the World No. 64 with a hold to 15 to wrap up victory in 55 minutes.
He improved to a 66-3 match record on the season (42-2 on hard courts) and to 11-1 lifetime in Basel, an ATP World Tour 500 indoor tennis tournament. Djokovic has won 10 of his 28 tour-level titles this year.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic gave fans a fright Tuesday evening at the Swiss Indoors Basel, first donning a Halloween mask on his entrance to the court before surviving a scare against Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
“Every year for the last five years it’s a tradition at Halloween, which usually is during Paris-Bercy, that I go out with some crazy mask,” explained Djokovic. “This year it happened one week earlier, so I hope that people don’t mind. It was just tradition and a little bit of fun.
“I was communicating with my fans on Facebook and Twitter the last couple of days and they told me to go for it, so I went for it,” he added. “It was sitting on the chair next to me and it was watching me all through the match. It was scary.”
Djokovic won the first set with two breaks of serve, but came under pressure in the second. He double-faulted to relinquish a break in the ninth game and Malisse seized his opportunity to draw level.
The top-seeded Serbian quickly regrouped, rolling out to a 3-0 lead to start the third set. He held the match on his racquet at 5-4, but hit a double fault on the fifth break point of the game. Malisse was eventually undone by his own share of errors, committing four straight in a must-win service game to concede the victory to Djokovic after two hours and 12 minutes.
“I hoped that we would not get to the tie-break,” he admitted. “It’s really unpredictable in the third set tie-break who’s going to win. He made a couple of mistakes. I made some returns in. Overall, it wasn’t a great match for me. I played many, many better matches this year than this one, but under the circumstances, for me the most important thing now is that I feel good on the court physically.”
Djokovic, making his first tournament appearance since his US Open triumph, is chasing the 11th title of his outstanding 2011 campaign this week in Basel. He has reached the final the past two years at this ATP World Tour 500 indoor tournament, defeating Roger Federer in the 2009 final before finishing runner-up to the Basel-native last year.