Astana Open: Djokovic races past Garin, to face Van de Zandschulp in second round

World No 7 Novak Djokovic breezed past Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-1 in just 62 minutes in the opening round of Astana Open, here on Wednesday.

Fresh from winning his 89th tour-level title without dropping a set in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Djokovic maintained his impressive level in a near-flawless performance on tournament debut in Kazakhstan.

The Serbian was in control from the start, finding consistency and accuracy with his groundstrokes to keep Garin under pressure as he converted five from eight break points en route to increasing his ATP Head to Head series lead against the Chilean to 3-0.

“From the start to the end, (it was) a great performance. Playing in a new tournament, under different conditions, the first match is never easy. Obviously you are looking to see how you are going to adapt, but I did it perfectly, really, played as well as I can. I just made him work and used every opportunity that was presented to me,” said Djokovic after the match.

The win lifts Djokovic one spot to 14th in the ATP Live Race To Turin as he attempts to qualify for the ATP Finals for the 15th time. Courtesy of his Wimbledon victory this year, the Serbian only needs to finish in the Top 20 of the Race in order to qualify for the season-ending showpiece, where he is a five-time champion.

Djokovic was particularly impressive early against the World No 81 Garin as he surged to the first set in style with a combination of blistering groundstrokes and clinical serving.

Although Garin fended off a break point to hold for 1-1 in the second set, the Serbian’s level barely dropped as Garin was left helpless in the face of a relentless barrage from his opponent, who finished the match having dropped just six points behind his serve.

With his triumph in Tel Aviv last weekend, Djokovic became the only ATP player to have won titles on clay (Rome), grass (Wimbledon) and hard courts in 2022. The seven-time year-end No 1 admitted his ability to adjust quickly to new conditions meant he is feeling comfortable in Astana, despite the courts playing considerably slower than those in Israel last week.

“I was lucky that throughout my career I was actually pretty quick in adjusting to different conditions and surfaces,” said Djokovic.

“But I think that experience helps with knowing what to do. But [also] winning a tournament, (as opposed to) losing in a final or semis, makes a difference mentally. Coming into this tournament I feel confident, I feel excited, I feel motivated, so I think that helps as well to adjust quickly,” he added.

The Serbian’s next opponent in Astana as he chases his fourth tour-level title of the season will be World No 34 Botic van de Zandschulp.

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