Aces were wild Wednesday, but it was Novak Djokovic that hit blackjack.
The No. 1 player in the world defeated Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 7-5 to increase his record in Beijing to 21-0.
“I feel very welcomed from Chinese people,” Djokovic said. “It's always a very positive feeling for me to be on the court in the China Open.”
Djokovic took care of business in the first set. The Serbian stole the early break from Pospisil and he didn’t look back.
The 27-year-old gave up just three points on serve, and he didn’t let up a single break point against him.
He did allow three aces in the set from the hard serving Canadian, but all of them came in the first five games.
“Vasek is a powerful server, someone who has shown today why he has a lot of potential, a lot of quality in his game,” Djokovic said.
But the Canadian dug himself into trouble late in the first set, including two costly double faults in his final service game. Djokovic took his second break and the first set of the match.
The second set was a different story, especially for Pospisil’s serve. The 6-foot 4-inch Canadian dropped in 11 second set aces, including three in two separate games.
“I think he served extremely well, especially in the second set,” Djokovic said. “A lot of aces. A lot of variety on his serve. But a very high percentage of first serves in.”
Djokovic’s serve remained on point. He had a game high 10 straight points on serve in the early part of the set.
Then things got interesting.
“I think it was, especially in the second set, a very high-quality tennis match,” Djokovic said.
With the set tied at 3, the seven-time Grand Slam champ headed to the service line.
Djokovic opened with a 40-30 lead, but Pospisil was determined to get back in the game. The Canadian crushed a cross-court winner and one point later he had his first break point of the match.
Pospisil seized his opportunity — a forehand winner to the right side of the court brought Djokovic to his knees and the crowd to its feet. The Canadian went up 4-3.
“I thought that I didn't do anything wrong,” Djokovic said. “It's just him. He played some great points and some great shots.”
Now 5-3, Djokovic had to break his opponent back or go to a third and deciding set.
“He had the set point on his serve and I managed to get the second-serve look and won that point,” Djokovic said. “I believed I could recover from a break down, and I did.”
Djokovic held his next service game putting the pressure back on his opponent, but the Canadian wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The final game went to deuce twice when Pospisil did what Djokovic didn’t do all match — he double faulted. Upset by his effort, Pospisil kicked the ball into the stands. Djokovic took the next point and the match.
“If he won that set, again, the match could have gone either way,” Djokovic said. It’s such a competitive level of tennis today that we are playing, you know, that very few points can decide a winner.”
The crowd jumped to its feet and put their hands together for both players, but especially for their favorite Serbian.
“It was a pretty good crowd on the court,” Djokovic said. “They enjoyed the quality of tennis that both players performed.”
On Friday Djokovic will face either 45th-ranked Pablo Andujar or 10th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the third round of the China Open.