Novak Djokovic fired a warning to his rivals in their quest for the Rolex Shanghai Masters title on Thursday when he outclassed Italian No. 16 seed Marco Cecchinato for a place in the quarter-finals. Three-time former champion Djokovic, who is also aiming to finish at year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for the fifth time exacted revenge over Cecchinato with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-0 victory in 70 minutes.

The Serbian star is now 15 matches unbeaten and has won 28 of 29 matches overall since losing to then No. 72-ranked Cecchinato 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(11) on 5 June in the Roland Garros quarter-finals. The second seed will next play Nitto ATP Finals contender Kevin Anderson, the seventh seed from South Africa, who broke a two-match losing streak to beat NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 7-6(1), for the first time in their third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

Djokovic, who is now 42-10 on the season (20-4 on hard courts), has a 6-1 record against Anderson, who is bidding to join the Serbian, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Djokovic beat Anderson, who is currently in seventh position in the ATP Race To London, in this year’s Wimbledon final.

If Djokovic reaches the Shanghai final on Sunday, the Serbian will also pass Federer at No. 2 in the ATP Rankings. If Djokovic captures his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week, he will move to just within 35 points of the Nadal (7,480) in the battle for year-end No. 1.

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Djokovic needed to bide his time in the first set, but convert his seventh break point opportunity for a 4-3 lead when Cecchinato mis-timed a forehand. Djokovic completed the 47-minute opener with an unreturned serve, then ran through the second set by striking cleanly on return and drawing Cecchinato to the net. Djokovic closed out victory with a hold to 15. Overall, Djokovic hit 20 winners and committed 11 unforced errors.

Cecchinato, 26, is now 1-5 lifetime against Top 10 opponents. The winner of two ATP World Tour titles in 2018 at the Gazprom Hungarian Open in Budapest (d. Millman) and the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag (d. Pella) is now 23-20 on the season.

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