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Djokovic sizzles into Dubai second round

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Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri during round 1 of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in the United Arab Emirates on Monday. AFP

Djokovic sizzles into Dubai second round

Novak Djokovic continued his hot early season form on Monday, cruising past Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri 6-1, 6-2 into the second round of the Dubai Championships.

The top seed and four-time champion made short work of Jaziri, who is ranked 260 in the world.

Djokovic owns a perfect 14-0 record this season after winning a title for Serbia at the ATP Cup followed by a record-extending eighth Australian Open crown.

The world number one crashed seven aces past Jaziri in a match that lasted little more than an hour.

“A one-hour match. I did 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.”

He reeled off the opening set in less than half an hour, broke twice in the second set and served out the win on his first match point.

He will face Philipp Kohlschreiber in the next round after the German veteran advanced past Egyptian Mohamed Safwat 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

“It’s a great way to start out the tournament,” said Djokovic, who is playing the event for the first time since 2016. “I missed playing here. I really enjoy it. I enjoy night sessions.

“Philipp can deliver his best game in these kind of matches. He’s very capable. I’ll try to be ready.”

French third seed Gael Monfils, winner of back-to-back events this month in Montpellier and Rotterdam, beat Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 7-5 in a match that lasted two hours.

“It was a battle for me, I didn’t play my best and I’m disappointed about that,” Monfils said.

“I was just running to cover the court, I still believed even if I was playing poorly. I’m not so happy about tonight.”

Earlier, Karen Khachanov earned a 7-6 (7/2), 6-1 win over Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the second round.

The world number 17, who lives in the emirate, twice hit back from a break down in the opening set before cruising through the second.

“The first round is pretty tough, I always try to get used to it,” said Russian Khachanov.

“I’m really happy I could get the win. I have another match, another opportunity to play better, like always, to improve.”

Khachanov’s compatriot Andrey Rublev, ranked 14 in the world, also moved into the second round following a 6-4, 6-4 win over Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while France’s Richard Gasquet beat South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

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