Novak Djokovic, playing a singles tournament for the first time since winning Wimbledon in July, reached the Tel Aviv quarter-finals yesterday with a straight-sets victory over Spain’s Pablo Andujar.
Djokovic eased to a 6-0, 6-3 win over his 115th-ranked opponent in 86 minutes, firing 30 winners and breaking Andujar four times. He was always in control against his Spanish rival who he has now defeated three times, taking control of the match by winning the first seven games.
Former world number one Djokovic hasn’t played a singles event since capturing a seventh Wimbledon title 10 weeks ago after his refusal to get vaccinated ruled him out of the US Open and the entire American hardcourt swing.
His only other appearance had been in the Laver Cup team tournament in London last week. It was there that he saw long-time rival Roger Federer retire from the sport.
However, the 35-year-old Djokovic, now ranked at seven in the world, insisted on the eve of the Tel Aviv event that retirement was not on his agenda.
“I still want to play tennis even though I achieved pretty much everything that you can achieve in tennis,” said Djokovic.
“I still have passion and hunger to play at a highest professional level.”
Victorious Ruud qualifies for ATP Finals
World number two Casper Ruud secured a place at the ATP Finals for the second straight year after battling into the Korea Open quarter-finals yesterday.
The Norwegian, who was the runner-up at both the French and US Opens this season, saw off Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in Seoul. Ruud reached the semi-finals of the season-ending event in Turin last year before losing to Daniil Medvedev.
“I just got the news that I qualified for the ATP Finals in Turin again this year and I’m so much looking forward to coming back to Italy,” Ruud told atptour.com.
“I had such a great time last year, it’s a great country for tennis.”
Ruud is playing in his first singles tournament since the US Open where he had a chance to take the world number one spot.
But he lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the final, with the Spanish teenager instead becoming the youngest top-ranked men’s player in history.
Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal have already booked their places in the eight-man field for the ATP Finals which take place from November 13-20.
“My goal for this year is to finish in the top three in the ranking,” Ruud, who played at the Laver Cup last week, added in his post-match remarks.
“But there are many good players that probably feel the same, so if I can do that I’ll be very happy,” he said.
The 23-year-old will face Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan for a semi-final spot in Seoul today after overcoming a second-set blip against the 111th-ranked Jarry.
Second seed Cameron Norrie also advanced to the quarter-finals yesterday by beating Japan’s Kaichi Uchida 6-2, 6-2, while third seed Taylor Fritz withdrew due to illness.