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By Pawan Atri
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Djokovic has hoisted the plaque in the Californian desert in 2008 and 2010 and comes into the tournament on the run of back to back titles at the Australian Open and in Dubai. While he overwhelmed the Super Scot Andy Murray at the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific, he claimed his 4th Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown by trouncing the Czech Tomas Berdych.
The last man to triumph over the greatest slugger of all time was the American Sam Querrey who conquered him in the round of 32 at the Paris Masters in October 2012. Ever since then, the man has been simply unstoppable clinching three tournament victories in the process – at the World Tour Finals in London, the ‘Happy Slam’ and a shield in the Emirates. The pundits have by now began to compare his 2013 sojourn to his many feats of 2011 and even Djokovic feels that it is a mature initiation of a new season.
The top seed said: “I couldn't ask for a better start of the season, winning [in] Australia and Dubai, playing on hard courts, which is my most successful and most preferable surface that suits my game the best. So I won this tournament in the past, and I like spending time here and in Miami these few weeks. Hopefully I can maintain the high level of performance and move into these weeks with a great deal of confidence.”
The Serbinator added: “It feels the same in a way (to his unbeaten start to 2011), the way I started the year. I have great memories from 2011. That was by far my most successful year in my career. It's very early still to say what's going to happen, so I don't want to predict anything. My mindset will stay the same, and that is to enjoy the moment, to be in the moment, to try to do my best in the present, and take it step by step and then see how far I can go.”
The two men have locked horns thrice before on the men’s tour and it is the reigning King of Melbourne Park that has kept a clean sheet against his Italian foe. While the Monte Carlo resident was absolutely dominant in their first two bouts in Shanghai in 2009 and on the clay-courts of Belgrade the following year, he was tested in the third clash and had to dig deep to overcome his 36th ranked adversary. Nonetheless, it won’t be that difficult this time round as Djokovic will steamroll him with a clinical performance.
Pick: Djokovic in two.
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