Novak fights off Kukushkin challenge, books Ferrer quarter-final clash

Auto Draft

Top seed Novak Djokovic withstood the challenge of world no.85 Mikhail Kukushkin to prevail 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday and reach the Shanghai Rolex Masters last eight.

Novak won 75% of his first service points and was 9/17 on net approaches in a two hour, six minute contest at Qi Zhong Tennis Center.

Djokovic broke Kukushkin for a 5-3 lead and then closed out the opening set in 31 minutes.

The Kazakh bounced back, as Novak was struggling to maintain his composure. Kukushkin broke early in the second set and consolidated the break for a 3-0 lead. The world no.1 saved one set point at 2-5, 30/40, before going on to break his rival for 4-5. However, the Volgograd native held nerve and broke once again in the 10th game to level at one set all.

A break in the fifth game of the deciding third set was enough for the Serb to seal the hard-fought win and improve to a 51-7 match record on the season.

“I congratulate him for fighting, said Novak. I’m really glad to come out as winner and stay mentally strong. That’s why I won. I won because I fought my way through.

Match statistics: aces (13-9), double faults (2-0), winners (27-35), unforced errors (34-37), total points won (93-86).

Novak will take on no.5 seed David Ferrer for a place in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event semi-finals. The Spaniard defeated 11th-seeded Andy Murray in three sets – 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

The quarter-final match is scheduled on Friday at 18.30 local time (12.30 CET). Djokovic leads Ferrer 12-5 in their H2H series.

“We all know how competitive David is,” Novak said about his next rival. “To beat Murray is a big win for him. So I’m sure that he’s confident. It’s always tough. You have to earn your points. He runs. He’s been one of the toughest competitors around for so many years. I expect another exhausting match.”

Photo: Getty Images

Share post