By Chris Oddo/ Thursday, October 3, 2013
With his No. 1 ranking in jeopardy, Novak Djokovic improved his career record to 16-0 in Beijing with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 victory over Fernando Verdasco at the China Open on Thursday. It was a shaky performance that saw the Serb twice double fault on break points in the first two sets, but Djokovic revived his game in the decider to easily advance to the quarterfinals, where he will face Sam Querrey.
Novak Djokovic is more concerned about getting into a winning routine than hanging on to the No. 1 ranking.
Photo Source: AP
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After the match Djokovic talked about how getting into a winning routine is more important than holding on to the No. 1 ranking. Djokovic would need to win the title to have any chance of remaining No. 1 this week, and Nadal will have to lose before the final in Beijing. In other words, fat chance. But the Serb, who has held the top spot for 101 weeks (ironically only one week less than Nadal's 102), realizes that Nadal's ascension to the top spot is pretty much inevitable now.
“It just does not depend on me,” Djokovic said. “This tournament or next tournament, I mean Rafa hasn't played in this period over the last year, so he has only to gain points and I have many points to defend.”
Djokovic has accepted that he's bound to be passed by Nadal, but he doesn't consider the battle for ATP supremacy to be over. “Rankings will change sooner or later and that's a fact,” he said. “For me it's very important just to try to get into the winning routine and to try to win as many tennis matches as possible.”
With an undefeated record in Beijing, Djokovic can make a strong statement by winning this tournament regardless of what happens in the rankings battle this week. He has said that the medium-paced hard courts of Beijing suit his game and he claims that the incredible support of the Chinese people serve to invigorate him when he plays in the Chinese capital.
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“The last four years I still haven't lost a match on this court,” he said. “Just feeling from the positive energy that I get from the support and from the crowd.”
With a quarterfinal against Querrey, Djokovic intends to focus on his game regardless of what Nadal is doing in the bottom half of the draw and in the rankings.
“If I drop the No. 1 spot in the world this week or next week or whatever I will not be frustrated,” he said. “I know that Nadal has been playing the best tennis in 2013, no question about it. It's just important to try to continue on playing well, improve the game, and always get better.”