Novak Djokovic all but wrapped up his sixth year-end No. 1 ranking on Wednesday in Vienna after getting through Borna Coric 7-6(11), 6-3.
Coric failed to convert on four set points in the first.
“It was very tiring and very challenging. Obviously Borna is a great fighter. He’s a very good friend of mine. Off the court we’ve known each other for quite a long time,” Djokovic said. “He has kind of a similar style of tennis as I do. From the backhand corner, very solid, trying to create points with his forehand. He was serving very well, especially in the first set. It was very difficult for me to return his serve.”
Coric falls to 0-4 against the Serb having never won a set.
More importantly, the win means that unless Rafael Nadal takes a wildcard into the Sofia event in two weeks (played between Paris and the ATP Finals) and accrues enough points, Djokovic will finish No. 1 for a record-tying sixth time in his career.
After a day off, Djokovic returns on Friday to face either Hubert Hurkacz or Lorenzo Sonego in the quarterfinals.
In a rematch of their 2017 US Open semifinal, Kevin Anderson again got the better of Pablo Carreno Busta with a 7-5, 6-1 win to also reach the quarters.
In first round play, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev both advanced in their openers. Medvedev rolled Jason Jung 6-3, 6-1 while the Greek was pushed to three but prevailed over Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4.
“I’m happy that I was relaxed and in that kind of state of mind and mood. I think it helped overall my performance today,” said Tsitsipas. “For sure there are a lot of benefits you can take when you’re playing relaxed and when you’re not panicked.”
Vasek Pospisil upset his countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime in straights and Jannik Sinner took care of Casper Ruud.
Tomorrow, Sinner will take on the hot-handed Andrey Rublev in a tantalizing second round affair. Tsitsipas returns to face Grigor Dimitrov and home favorite Dominic Thiem tests Cristian Garin.
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