DUBAI : World number one Novak Djokovic impressed again at his first tournament since being deported ahead of the Australian Open, beating Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3 7-6(2) to reach the Dubai Championships quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Just as against Lorenzo Musetti in his opening match here on Monday, Djokovic received plenty of vocal support from a large crowd at the Aviation Club and responded with some dazzling tennis under the lights.
The 20-times Grand Slam champion dominated the opening set after breaking serve in the fourth game with a winner.
It was much more of a battle in the second set as Khachanov recovered from an early break of serve to level the set at 4-4.
Djokovic was forced to pull out all the stops to fend off a fired-up Khachanov, forging ahead in the tiebreak and claiming victory on his first match point.
The Serbian is competing for the first time this year after his Australian Open hopes were dashed when he was deported following an 11-day saga revolving around his decision not to have a COVID-19 vaccination and a controversial exemption he had been granted to play in the event.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)