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Djokovic Reaches Vienna Quarterfinals, Closes In On History

Novak Djokovic fought off four set points stopping Borna Coric 7-6(11), 6-3 to reach the Vienna quarterfinals.

By Witherspoon

Squeaking squeals of skidding sneakers echoed around Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna.

Novak Djokovic barely spoke a word, but his soles were screaming with desire.

Djokovic fought off four set points in the opening set subduing Borna Coric 7-6(11), 6-3 to reach the Vienna quarterfinals for the first time since 2007 when he stopped Stan Wawrinka to win the title.

The top-seeded Serbian moved closer toward history. Djokovic can secure his sixth season-ending world No. 1 ranking—matching his tennis idol Pete Sampras, who held the year-end top spot six straight years—by taking the Vienna title.

Truth be told, the 33-year-old Djokovic has virtually sewed up the top spot raising his ranking point total to 11,830—nearly a 2,000-point lead on world No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, who destroyed Djokovic in the French Open final to capture his 13th Roland Garros crown and 20th major title, would need to run the table and sweep three titles he’s yet to win in his career. The 34-year-old Spaniard would need to capture next week’s Rolex Paris Masters, take a wild card into the ATP 250-level Sofia event and win that and collect his first ATP Finals championship in London to stop the Serbian from history.

Competing with clarity today, Djokovic saved all three break points he faced raising his 2020 record to 39-2.

Four games into the match court coverage took ridiculous extremes as a sliding Coric ran down a dropper and shoveled an angled reply off the sideline eluding a skidding Djokovic. Coric followed with an ace digging out of a love-30 hole to level after four games.

Djokovic generates a bit more juice on his forehand than Coric and used that electric shot and an ace to stamp a love hold for 4-3. Coric answered with a love hold of his own to even it after eight games.

Stepping into the court, Coric intercepted an angle and spun a forehand crosscourt behind the top seed for a second break point. Djokovic slid his second ace off the sideline to save it eventually holding.

Coric cranked his first ace down the T closing his second straight love hold forging a 5-all tie.

A tremendous get off a drop shot from Coric followed by a Djokovic error gave the Croatian his third break point of the set, but the Serbian rattled out an error to end a long rally holding for 6-5.

Three break points came and went, but the stubborn Coric kept pushing earned three set points in the tiebreaker at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7, but the Croatian could not convert as his forehand failed him on all three occasions.

Coric gained another set point at 10-9, but Djokovic froze him with a crosscourt forehand.

Continuing to drive the ball deep in the court, Djokovic provoked a pair of backhand errors wrapping up the 75-minute first set saving four set points.

The good news for Coric was he served almost impeccably throughout the opening set permitting just nine points on serve. The bad news: he had little to short for it and Djokovic was reading his serve to start the second set.

Djokovic stretched Coric into a forehand error earning his first break point 92 minutes into the match. Coric cracked floating his first double fault into net as Djokovic broke for a 2-1 second-set lead.

Mixing his spots on serve, Djokovic slide a serve winner down the middle capping a love hold to confirm the break.

Exhibiting a contortionist’s body control, Djokovic streaked up to a drop shot, scrambled back for a ball behind him then blocked a forehand volley winning a frenetic point to hold for 5-3.

On his second match point, Djokovic secured his spot in his sixth quarterfinal of the season when Coric sailed a forehand.

The Australian Open champion will play either Hubert Hurkacz or Lorenzo Sonego for a spot in the final four.