Seeking his fifth crown in Dubai and the first one since 2013, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic claimed two commanding holds to reach the quarters, moving a win away from keeping the ATP throne ahead of Rafael Nadal. Malek Jaziri and Philipp Kohlschreiber won seven games in total against the mighty Serb who spent only two hours on the court so far, dominating on both serve (21 points lost in four sets) and return to produce two impressive triumphs and set the quarter-final duel against a former top-10 star Karen Khachanov.
The Russian who lives in Dubai is yet to find his best tennis after conquering Paris Masters title at the end of 2018, cracking the top-10 last year but barely scoring more wins than defeats to lose ground and somehow survive in the top-20.
Karen kicked off the new season with four wins at the ATP Cup, losing four out of seven matches after that and hoping for a better run in Dubai where he feels at home. To reach the semis, the Russian will have to pass the toughest obstacle and beat Novak for the second time, stunning him in that Parisian clash before Djokovic gained revenge last November at the Davis Cup Finals, earning the second win over Karen in three encounters.
Novak and Karen had a chance to practice together here in Dubai and we should see an entertaining clash if they both produce their best tennis. Khachanov had a nice draw, beating Mikhail Kukushkin and Dennis Novak to find himself in the last eight where he will need much better tennis to stand a chance against the world's leading figure, joking about his chances while sharing a picture with his fans.
Instead of one Karen Khachanov, we had seven of them, covering all parts of the baseline and expressing his thoughts about Novak's current level. After that loss to Roger Federer at the ATP Finals, Novak has won the last 18 matches for his seventh-best streak in a career, hoping to extend it today and advance into the semi-final.