Djokovic makes winning return to ATP action in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV (AFP): Novak Djokovic, playing a singles tournament for the first time since winning Wimbledon in July, reached the Tel Aviv quarter-finals on Thursday with a straight-sets victory over Spain’s Pablo Andujar.

Djokovic eased to a 6-0, 6-3 win over his 115th-ranked opponent in 86 minutes, firing 30 winners and breaking Andujar four times.

He was always in control against his Spanish rival who he has now defeated three times, taking control of the match by winning the first seven games.

Former world number one Djokovic hasn’t played a singles event since capturing a seventh Wimbledon title 10 weeks ago after his refusal to get vaccinated ruled him out of the US Open and the entire American hardcourt swing.

His only other appearance had been in the Laver Cup team tournament in London last week.

It was there that he saw long-time rival Roger Federer retire from the sport.

However, the 35-year-old Djokovic, now ranked at seven in the world, insisted on the eve of the Tel Aviv event that retirement was not on his agenda.

“I still want to play tennis even though I achieved pretty much everything that you can achieve in tennis,” said Djokovic, whose 21 Grand Slam titles is just one short of Rafael Nadal’s men’s record of 22.

“I still have passion and hunger to play at a highest professional level.”

Djokovic, showing no sign of the right wrist trouble which bothered him in London, will face Canada’s 149th-ranked Vasek Pospisil in Friday’s quarter-finals in Tel Aviv.

The Serb boasts a 5-0 career record over the 32-year-old Canadian.