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Djokovic digs deep to vanquish Verdasco

ESPN staff
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Novak Djokovic was given a stern test but was able to avoid an upset © Getty Images
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Defending champion Novak Djokovic managed to fend off the brave challenge of Fernando Verdasco in a final set to reach the quarter-finals of the China Open.

After the world No. 1 took the opening set 7-5, Verdasco hit back to stun the Serb 6-2 in the second and force a decider. However, the resistance of Verdasco faded as Djokovic recovered to avoid an upset to win the third set 6-2 and seal his place in the last-eight.

Djokovic was cruising in the first set after opening up a 4-1 lead. Verdasco though began to find his feet and took three games on the spin to get the break back - losing just one point on his serve in that period.

With the pair holding serve in the following three games, it was Djokovic who ensured he took the first set by breaking Verdasco thanks to a double fault from his opponent.

And as it appeared that Djokovic was going to push on and take the win in straight sets, instead Verdasco raised his performance level to break the current Australian Open champion in the third game - with Djokovic guilty of committing a double fault.

Trailing by two games at 4-2, Djokovic was then punished in the seventh game as Verdasco secured a second break, before clinching the set 6-2 to take the encounter into a deciding set.

Like he did in the first set, Djokovic was quick out of the blocks at the start of the final set, racing to the first three games. Verdasco was unable to get the break back as Djokovic improved on his serve - fending off a break back point and eventually sealing a hard-fought victory.

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