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Djokovic almost assures year-end No.1 ranking

Djokovic almost assures year-end No.1 ranking

VIENNA: Novak Djokovic virtually ensured equalling Pete Sampras’s record of ending the year as world number one for the sixth time on Wednesday when he reached the Erste Bank Open quarter-finals.

Djokovic defeated Croatia’s Borna Coric 7-6 (13-11), 6-3 and will secure the year-end top spot as long as Rafael Nadal does not take an unlikely wild card into the Sofia event next month.

If the 33-year-old Serb wins the Vienna title on Sunday, he will make sure of the landmark regardless of whether or not Nadal plays in Bulgaria.

Djokovic, who now has 39 wins and just two defeats in 2020, has been the top-ranked player at the end of a season five times: in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

He shares that mark with career rivals Roger Federer and Nadal. Sampras achieved the feat six years in succession between 1993 and 1998.

Djokovic, a 17-time Grand Slam title winner, is playing his first tournament since his straight sets loss to Nadal in the Roland Garros final over two weeks ago.

He is seeking a fifth title of the year and next faces either Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz or Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego.

Elsewhere, third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas opened his Vienna campaign with a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4 win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

The reigning ATP Finals champion will face Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the last eight.

Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev also progressed with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Taiwanese lucky loser Jason Jung. He next plays Vasek Pospisil, who beat Canadian countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 7-5.

Kevin Anderson, who won the event in 2018, also advanced to the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Pablo Carreno Busta.

Also, Jannik Sinner defeated Caspar Ruud 7-6 (-72), 6-3 to set up a match against Andrey Rublev.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020

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