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Novak Djokovic on Rafael Nadal's USO withdrawal: "The new ranking system protects players"

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal
Rudra Biswas
ANALYST
Modified 27 Aug 2020, 21:32 IST
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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been in some scintillating form at the first big tennis event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Djokovic has won all of his matches without breaking sweat at the Western & Southern Open so far, extending his 2020 record to a perfect 21-0.

Novak Djokovic will now take on World No. 12 Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the semifinals, and ahead of the match he spoke about his opponent's formidable game. The Serb also gave his thoughts on Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from the 2020 US Open, in response to a question asked at the press conference.

Roberto Bautista Agut's clash with Medvedev reminded Novak Djokovic of their own match at Miami 2019

Novak Djokovic met Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinals of 2019 Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic met Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinals of 2019 Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic is wary of the challenge posed by Bautista Agut, who has beaten the Serb the last three times they have faced on hardcourt - at the 2016 Shanghai Masters, the 2019 Qatar Open and the 2019 Miami Masters. When asked what makes Roberto Bautista Agut such a difficult opponent, Djokovic was quick to note Bautista Agut's solid and disciplined game.

"His style of play, he is consistent and he doesn’t make many errors, he doesn’t drop his level. He is probably the most underrated player in the last five years and deserves more respect than he gets. His win over Medvedev reminded me of our match in Miami," Djokovic said.

In their match at Miami, Novak Djokovic comfortably led by a set and a break before Bautista Agut began playing with more authority. Eventually, the Spaniard would break down the 17-time Major winner's game both mentally and tactically.

I can understand why Rafa stayed in Europe: Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic empathized with Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic empathized with Rafael Nadal's reasons behind his withdrawal at 2020 USO
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Novak Djokovic answered a slew of other questions at his post-match press conference after booking his place in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters, ranging from the status of his neck to his arch-rival Rafael Nadal missing 2020 US Open.

Asked to weigh in on Rafael Nadal's decision to sit out of the North American swing taking place at Flushing Meadows, Novak Djokovic said:

"I can understand why Rafa stayed in Europe. Unpredictable circumstances, he didn’t want to risk his health and that of his team. The new ranking system protects the players who make that kind of decision."

The Serb also gave an update about his neck, which had prompted the Serb to withdraw from the men's doubles event. Djokovic assured everyone his neck was close to 100% and that he was serving normally.

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The neck pain had forced Djokovic to play at half powers in his opener against Ricardas Berankis. But since then the World No. 1 has grown in confidence, and in his last match he looked as good as ever.

Published 27 Aug 2020, 21:32 IST
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