TENNIS / The Serbian is edging closer to McEnroe's record
Novak Djokovic took his winning streak at the start of this year to 33 matches with an embarrassingly one-sided 6-0, 6-3 destruction of Pole Lukasz Kubot in the second round of the Rome Masters here on Wednesday.
The Serbian 23-year-old is edging closer to American John McEnroe's 27-year-old record of a 42-match winning start to a season.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal survived a scare as he overcame a sloppy start to beat Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi 6-7, 6-4, 6-0 in his second round match.
Djokovic, the World No. 2, has won all six tournaments he has entered this year, including the Australian Open.
Djokovic raced through the first set taking all three of his break-point opportunities, making half the number of errors and four times as many winners.
On the final point he pounced on a net-cord to send a forehand winner down the line.
Serve and volley specialist Kubot seemed to gather his strength and put up much more of a fight in the second set.
In the second game he set up a game point with a big serve and backhand volley.
But he netted a backhand and then a lucky net-cord gave Djokovic break point, which he secured with an inside out forehand.
Kubot had a chance again in the fourth game but he doubled faulted on game point.
However, a winning smash gave him another opportunity which he took with a delicate drop shot that brought up the biggest cheer of the match and an appreciative smile from the outclassed Kubot.
He was again on the attack in his next service game, and he secured that at the third attempt with a forehand volley winner after the previous two saw him first passed at the net and then go long with a backhand.
But in the next game Djokovic ran through his full repertoire, with a backhand drop shot from the baseline bringing Kubot to the net where the Serbian nonchalantly passed him down the line.
Kubot held serve once more but Djokovic finished off the match when Kubot blazed a forehand into the tramlines after just one hour seven minutes on court.
Meanwhile, the Indian duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes went down 6-3, 3-6, 10-5 to John Isner and Sam Querrey.
The results: Second round:
Men: Rafael Nadal bt Paolo Lorenzi 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-0; Feliciano Lopez bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Mardy Fish bt Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-2; Nicolas Almagro bt Sam Querrey 6-3, 7-6(4); Florian Mayer bt Jurgen Melzer 6-4 (retd.); Juan Ignacio Chela bt Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-2; Novak Djokovic bt Lukasz Kubot 6-0, 6-3; Stanislas Wawrinka bt Filippo Volandri 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
Robin Soderling bt Fernando Verdasco 2-6, 7-5, 6-4; Andy Murray bt Xavier Malisse 6-2, 2-6, 6-3; Jarkko Nieminen bt Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.
Doubles: John Isner & Sam Querrey bt Mahesh Bhupathi & Leander Paes 6-3, 3-6, 10-5.
Women: Annabel Medina Garrigues bt Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-3; Jelena Jankovic bt Lucie Safarova 6-0, 6-3; Elena Vesnina bt Anastasia Radwanska 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; Jarmila Gajdosova bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-4; Na Li bt Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-4, 6-2; Samantha Stosur bt Iveta Benesova 7-1, 7-5; Yanina Wickmayer bt Anna Ivanovic 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.
Greta Arn bt Alberta Brianti 6-4, 6-4; Polona Hercog bt Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova bt Vera Dushevina 7-5, 6-4; Daniela Hantuchova bt Romina Oprandi 7-5, 6-1. — AFP