SHANGHAI – World number one Novak Djokovic extended his hot streak in China as he blazed past Martin Klizan at the Shanghai Masters on Wednesday with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka snapping at his heels.
The two-time champion brushed Klizan aside 6-2, 6-1 to set up a clash with Feliciano Lopez or Dominic Thiem as he seeks to add to this year’s haul of eight titles, including three of the four Grand Slams. The Serb lifted the China Open trophy for the sixth time on Sunday and he said a surge of confidence after what he calls his best season yet made him very tough to beat.
“Considering the fact that I’ve won so many matches this year and tournaments, probably the best season of my life definitely, anywhere I go I’m confident,” said Djokovic, after raising his win-loss record to 69-5 this year. “Especially towards the end of the season, knowing that back in the previous years I’ve played consistently well and was very successful in the last couple months of the season.
“That encourages me, gives me incentive to go out on the court and play the best that I can. As I said, many matches won on this court as well helps me to be more comfortable starting the match and playing in it, as well.” Murray, another two-time winner at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium, also zipped past Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-4 and French Open champion Wawrinka beat Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
After Roger Federer’s shock loss to 70th-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas late on Tuesday, there were no banana-skins for Djokovic, Wawrinka or Murray, who was returning to action following a four-week break. Outspoken Australian Nick Kyrgios flirted with a 28-day ban after he was slapped with his second code violation in as many matches during his 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
But Australian number one Bernard Tomic reached the third round when he beat David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2 — denting the Spaniard’s hopes of reaching the World Tour Finals in London. Federer complained that he found it tough to adapt to the Shanghai conditions after the defending champion went out to Ramos-Vinolas, but Murray said he had arrived early enough to acclimatise. “I think it’s not so much that the conditions are really tricky here, it’s that they’re quite different to Beijing and Tokyo. All of the players say that,” said the 2010 and 2011 champion. “It does take a bit of time to get used to the conditions here. But for me, that was a big positive in getting here early this year, that I’ve had five days to get used to it.”
Kyrgios was again at the centre of controversy when he received a code violation for smacking away a loose ball and nearly hitting a line judge — a day after he was fined $1,500 for an audible obscenity. If the 20-year-old totals $5,000 in fines by February 24 he will trigger the 28-day suspended ban he received in August for making a sexual comment about Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend.
But Kyrgios, who sparred with umpire Mohamed Lahyani in yet another combustible display, insisted he wasn’t concerned about a potential ban, even with the Australian Open looming in January. “Not concerned at all. If it happens, it happens,” shrugged the world number 32, adding: “I probably shouldn’t have done it. But I didn’t think it was too bad. I don’t know, can’t really change it now.”