Novak Djokovic continued his unbeaten start to the year by defeating Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The world number one has shaken off the early rust he showed in his first tournament since winning the Australian Open and impressed in a 6-3 7-5 win over fifth seed Hurkacz.
One break in each set proved the difference, with Djokovic dropping just 11 points on serve in the match and not facing a break point throughout his 20th straight victory, 15 of which have come in 2023.
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The only moment of real concern came when he slipped to 0-30 at 4-5 in the second set, but he responded well, and Djokovic said in an on-court interview broadcast by Amazon Prime Video: “It was a challenging match, as it always is against Hubert, one of the best guys on the tour.
“He’s got one of the best serves in the game so in the second set, until that 11th game, I didn’t really have too many chances. Fortunately for me I also found the rhythm on my serve.
“One or two points can always decide the winner of matches like this. I’m really, really glad with the way I played under pressure.”
Alexander Zverev is enjoying his best week since the serious ankle injury he suffered at the French Open last spring and he made it through to the last four with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
“I’m starting to play decent tennis, which is nice after nine months,” said the German. “I’m happy about that. I’m happy with how the match went. I’m also happy how I handled the pressure situations.”
He next faces defending champion Andrey Rublev, who saw off Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3 7-6 (3).
In Thursday’s late match, Daniil Medvedev beat Croatian number eight seed Borna Coric in straight sets, 6-3 6-2.
The Russian world number seven will go on to play Djokovic for a place in the final.