Following a strong showing in his opening match, Novak Djokovic will meet Mikhail Kukushkin in the third round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Thursday afternoon. This will serve as the first ever meeting between the two competitors and one that will heavily favour the top seed.
Faced with an intriguing opening match in Shanghai, the world No. 1 dispatched Dominic Thiem in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round of the tournament. The two-time defending champion at the Shanghai Rolex Masters beat the 21-year-old rising star by converting 2 of eight break points and winning 76 percent of his first service points to remain undefeated in his past 26 matches in China.
“I had to be on alert from the start because he was serving already 215 kilometers per hour in the first service game,” said Djokovic. “He was serving big, playing big. He’s definitely right up there as one of the most talented players. He’s got the power. Some shots today that he was playing were incredible. Backhands down the line.
“He was going for it. I don’t blame him. He’s a young player, playing on center court, it’s his opportunity to shine. He did well. I thought we played some really good points and a great match overall.”
In their first ever meeting on the professional tour, Mikhail Kukushkin upset 16th seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round in Shanghai. It was a dominant showing from the world No. 85, who struck 3 aces, won 90% of his first service points and saved both the break points he faced on serve.
This marks the first time that Djokovic and Kukushkin will meet on the professional tour and will likely be a match-up that strongly favours the world No. 1. Djokovic has not looked his sharpest these past few weeks but should have little trouble dispatching his upcoming opponent with relative ease.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets