Tennis: Djokovic faces compatriot in quarter finals after tough battle in Dubai
WORLD number one Novak Djokovic will face Serbian compatriot Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
But Djokovic will need to up his game if he is to make it four Dubai titles in a row after struggling past Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 in the second round today.
The 24-year-old, playing his first tournament since winning the Australian Open last month, had to recover from a break down in the second set before wrapping up victory in an hour and 29 minutes.
Seventh seed Tipsarevic, who beat his great friend Djokovic for the first time in four meetings at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London last year, made a slow start against Italian Flavio Cipolla before hitting back to win 6-7 (2/7) 6-1 6-1.
World number four Andy Murray had looked rusty yesterday in defeating German qualifier Michael Berrer in three sets but he was much sharper today against another qualifier, Swiss world number 185 Marco Chiudinelli.
Murray broke serve early in the first set and 30-year-old Chiudinelli could hold him at bay only until the ninth game of the second, with the Scot eventually triumphing 6-3 6-4.
In the last eight Murray is likely to face a much tougher test in the shape of fifth seed Tomas Berdych, who brushed aside qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-1 6-2.
There was one upset as sixth seed Mardy Fish's poor start to the year continued with a 6-2 7-6 (7/0) defeat by Russia's Mikhail Youzhny.
American Fish qualified for the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals for the first time last year but has won only three matches so far this season.
Djokovic praised Stakhovsky for making life difficult for him, telling a press conference: "I was expecting a lot of serve and volley attacks, especially after his first serve.
"He was using it really well, making my return games very difficult. But we both controlled our service games quite well up to maybe the beginning of the second set. I had one bad service game, he had a couple. I was fortunate to use the opportunity when it was presented."
Murray, meanwhile, will hope to end a three-match losing streak against Berdych when they meet again, with the Scot's only win coming back in 2005.
"I've always enjoyed playing guys that are big hitters," said Murray. "That's his game. I'll have to try and find a way of neutralising that by getting the first hit in the rallies, using a lot of variety in my game.
"He can make mistakes, but you need to force him into doing that. He's not just going to give you that. If you leave the ball in the middle of the court, he hits the ball very, very well."