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Djokovic edges past Verdasco at China Open

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-10-03 21:02

Djokovic edges past Verdasco at China Open

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns to Fernando Verdasco of Spain during their second round men's single match on China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on October 3, 2013.[Photo/CFP] 

BEIJING - World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia fought off tough resistance from Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the second round to reach the quarterfinals of the China Open on Thursday.

The Serb overcame a second slump to beat Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 in one hour and 54 minutes. With the victory, the three-times winner in Beijing has improved to a 16-0 mark at the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournament.

He must retain his title this week to keep a chance of holding his top spot for a 102nd week. If No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal reaches the final, he will reclaim the No. 1 ranking regardless of Djokovic's results.

The 26-year-old Djokovic squandered a 4-2 lead in the first set, but broke Verdasco again in the 12th game to seal the opener.

However, Verdasco fought back strongly. The former World No. 7 broke Djokovic in the third and seventh games to level the match and force a decider.

Djokovic made a strong start in the third set, opening up a 2-0 lead, and saved a break point in the seventh game before closing out victory.

Australian Open champion Djokovic is bidding to win his first title since the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in April, when he dethroned eight-time champion Nadal in the final.

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