Montreal: Novak Djokovic continued to settle into his new role as world number one with a business like 7-5, 6-2 third round win over Croatian Marin Cilic at the Montreal Masters, extending his season record to a spectacular 50-1.
Making his competitive debut as number one in Montreal, Djokovic said the position carries added pressure and responsibility but instead of wilting under the weight of expectation the Serb has embraced his elite status with vigor.
Djokovic's third round performance was more functional than flash as he tamed the big-hitting Cilic with a combination of solid tactics and groundstrokes on a blustery centre court.
He faced just three break points the entire match and saved them all while breaking Cilic on three occasions, including to end both sets.
"You got to keep smiling," Djokovic joked with reporters. "It wasn't really a beautiful match to play and to watch.”
"But I guess in the right moments I was trying to keep the ball into the court, make my opponent make an unforced error.”
"I was just more patient and played well. So that's the positive."
The victory kept the 24-year-old Serb on track for a semi-final showdown with the only man to beat him this season - Roger Federer, who will face his Wimbledon conqueror Frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga later on Thursday.
The winner of eight titles this season, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Djokovic is being tipped as the man to beat in Flushing Meadows where he will try to add the US Open title to his resume.
Before that, Djokovic has an opportunity to become the first player since Pete Sampras in 1993 to win his debut tournament as the world's top ranked player.
"It's normal I think to expect that the first opening matches of the tournament will be tricky because you're still trying to find the rhythm, trying to get used to the conditions, get into the tournament mode," said Djokovic, back in action for the first time since his Wimbledon win. "We had seven months of consistent competition week after week.”
"The schedule is so, so demanding and so tough, even these couple weeks off is just like a dream come true for us.”
"Great, we have two weeks off but after the fifth day, you're already confused. Where is my racquet, I need to play."
Earlier, seventh seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, 2010 Wimbledon finalist, was the first player through to the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 7-6 win over big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic.
Swiss 14th seed Stanislas Wawrinka also advanced with a gritty 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over South African Kevin Anderson, who delivered one of the shocks of the tournament, knocking off twice defending champion and world number four Briton Andy Murray in the second round.
First Published: Friday, August 12, 2011, 11:27