Top seed Novak Djokovic (Player Info) stayed in competition at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Beijing after battling past inspired Fernando Verdasco (Player Info) in three sets. Nole is bidding for his fourth China Open title and at the same time hoping to stay on top of ATP rankings. The second round encounter started with him rushing to 3-0, but the 31st-ranked Spaniard pegged back by 4-4 after converting his fifth break point of the set. Four holds to love followed before Djokovic avoided the tie-break by stealing the opponent’s serve for the second time. The complexion of the match changed in the set number two as Verdasco dictated the terms and broke the favorite twice by 5-2 – he made it one set each after holding the follow-up game. However, the Serb champion managed to raise the level of his game and again escaped to 3-0 in the decider. The Spaniard created one chance to break back, but could not capitalize and Djokovic ultimately clinched the second break to close out the match. He won 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 to extend the head-to-head lead to 6-4.
“[It was a] lack of concentration from my side,” said Djokovic. “I had some chances at the start of the second set, and I managed to allow him to come back into the match and start playing well. But, again, the important thing is that in the third set I regained the focus and the patience also, decreased the unforced errors, and managed to get a win, which is what counts in the end.”
Nole’s quarter-final challenger will be Sam Querrey (Player Info) who upset sixth-seeded Stan Wawrinka (Player Info). Although only 46% of his first servers were on target, the unseeded American was able to win 72% of total service points. In addition, Querrey efficiently converted three out of four break points he produced during the round of 16 clash. Two of the breaks came in the opening set which the US player managed to wrap up after less than half an hour of play. The Swiss number two was the first to steal a serve in the second set, yet 30th-ranked Querrey responded with a break to love before edging out Wawrinka in the tie-break – he progressed with a confident 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory and will now be aiming to improve his 1-6 head-to-head record against Djokovic.
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