Dubai: Novak Djokovic advanced to the semi-finals of the Dubai Open more quickly than he would have wished when his opponent, Mikhail Youzhny, was taken ill and withdrew on Thursday. The sixth-seeded Russian had twice reached the final in Dubai and would have provided a good test for the seven-time Grand Slam champion from Serbia, and Djokovic would certainly have preferred to experience that.
Returning to the tour more than five weeks since the loss of his Australian Open title, his greatest need is match practice. However, he approaches a possible semi-final meeting with Roger Federer after little more than two hours court time from two encounters.
Djokovic was pleased enough with his performance after a very routine 6-1, 6-3 win on Wednesday against Roberto Bautista Agut, a Spaniard just outside the top 50, and suggested that accumulated knowledge helped make up for ring rustiness. "The experience that I have playing, you know, the top players for many years helps me to understand what I need to do and what kind of approach I need to have," he said.