Novak Djokovic begins bid for fifth DDF title

By DG Staff

DUBAI 25 February 2020: Top seed Novak Djokovic began his bid for a fifth Dubai crown by defeating Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri 6-1 6-2 to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. Third seed Gael Monfils, sixth seed Andrey Rublev and seventh seed Karen Khachanov also enjoyed opening round victories.

Monfils overcame Marton Fucsovics 6-4 7-5, Rublev beat qualifier Lorenzo Musetti 6-4 6-4 and Dubai resident Khachanov defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (2) 6-1. Richard Gasquet overcame qualifier Lloyd Harris 7-6 (5) 6-4.

Djokovic was satisfied with how he played in his first match since winning the Australian Open.

“Yeah, it’s a great way to start out the tournament,” he said. “I miss playing here. I really enjoy it. I enjoy night sessions. There’s a lot of people for an opening day of the tournament. It’s a working day so I want to thank everyone coming out. It was a great atmosphere. One-hour match, I think I’ve done everything as well as I imagined it to be for the first match. Of course, there’s things that always can be improved, things that can be better. But I have to be satisfied with the performance.”

Djokovic will now face 36 year-old Tour veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, who overcame Egyptian wild card Mohamed Safwat, winning 4-6 6-4 6-0. It is not a match he will take lightly.

“I lost to him in straight sets in Indian Wells last year,” Djokovic recalled. “I am aware of what he’s capable of. He likes actually playing top players on a big stage. He has lots of experience. He’s very fit. He keeps on playing even at that age on a high level. I certainly will not underestimate him. As I said before, our last meeting I lost to him in straight sets on the hard courts. I will prepare myself. I’m feeling good on the court. Tonight was another testament to the way I feel. Confidence, obviously striking the ball well. Hopefully that can continue in the next match.”

Malek Jaziri

Jaziri predictably found it difficult to make any impression on the 17-times Grand Slam champion, but still found the experience useful.

“The top guys, is tough to play against them,” he said. “With my game I think he’s really solid. He don’t give a lot of chances. He don’t give a lot of free points, let’s say. He fight for all the points. You have to make all the points. If not, is tough. Plus I’m not in my best top level right now. I think I give the best today what I can do on court. I think is good test for me today to see where is my level, where I have to work, what I have to do. Is good. I think I come out from the match from a lot of positive things.

“And really thank you to the Dubai Duty Free and (Tournament Director) Salah Tahlak because they give me the wild card this year. I think for Mohamed (Safwat) as well it’s a great opportunity to play here in Dubai. Thanks as well to all the Tunisian and the people who come to support me today against Novak.”