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Djokovic vs Cecchinato tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Djokovic can avenge French Open defeat to Cecchinato in Shanghai

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 10 Oct 2018
  • Novak Djokovic faces Marco Cecchinato in the third round of the Rolex Shanghai Masters
  • Djokovic vs Cecchinato is live from Shanghai on Thursday at 3pm local/8am BST
Novak Djokovic (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

A rematch of the French Open quarterfinals is not likely to end the same way as Novak Djokovic takes on Marco Cecchinato at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

Novak Djokovic takes on Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, whose career ATP World Tour hard-court wins can be counted on the fingers of one hand, for a place in the quarterfinals of the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Thursday.

Djokovic congratulates Cecchinato after losing to him at the French Open (Photo by Eric FEFERBERG / AFP) 
Djokovic is looking for his fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters title and second Masters 1000 Series title of the year – and although the Wimbledon and US Open champion has already secured qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals, he has plenty of additional incentive to go deep in Shanghai. Should Djokovic reach the final, he will overtake defending champion Roger Federer as world no. 2, and if he wins the title, he’ll trail world no. 1 Rafael Nadal by only 115 points – a totally believable deficit to overcome by the end of the year, with Nadal currently out injured and Djokovic’s record at events like the Paris Masters and Nitto ATP Finals.

It helps, of course, that Djokovic shut down his season after Wimbledon 2017 and therefore isn’t defending any points. But the Serb’s surge back up the rankings, which could possibly take him as far as world no. 1 by the end of 2018, has everything to do with a return to form after an 18-month period of struggling with mental and physical injuries.

In many ways, Djokovic’s defeat to Marco Cecchinato in the quarterfinals of the French Open marked the tail end of those struggles, with the Serb heavily favoured to win over the unseeded Italian but instead suffering a surprise defeat in four sets. Since then, Djokovic has not only claimed Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open but completed the career Masters Slam with his Cincinnati Masters victory and finished runner-up at the Queen’s Club, with 27 singles wins and just two defeats – to Marin Cilic in the Queen’s Club final and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Rogers Cup. 

So there’s a neat poetry to Djokovic, having returned to form, will now face Cecchinato in Shanghai and have a chance to reverse the defeat he suffered at Roland Garros – something he shows every sign of doing, judging by Djokovic’s opening win in Shanghai. 

Returning to action for the first time since the US Open – not counting the Laver Cup exhibition in Chicago a couple of weeks ago – Djokovic improved to 12-0 against Jeremy Chardy in the second round of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, taking care of the hard-hitting Frenchman 6-3, 7-5. 

'I think I'm [a] completely different player than I was in first, five, six months of the year. Hopefully the outcome can be different, as well,’ Djokovic said of his clash with Cecchinato.

‘I'm very grateful to play on a high level. I think that I'm very close to my best, you know, and [my] “best” changes day to day. I can always strive to be the best I can be on that given day. Today's performance was pretty close to that.’

The 26-year-old Cecchinato, who before 2018 was best known for a match-fixing conviction and subsequent ban which was overturned on appeal, won the fourth Challenger title of his career in Santiago in March and went on to make a surprising run to a first ATP World Tour title at the 250 in Budapest, beating John Millman in the final. Then came the French Open, when Cecchinato – ranked world no. 72 at the time – became one of the stories of the tournament with his dazzling run to the semifinals, which saw him beat Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Djokovic before losing an entertaining semifinal to Dominic Thiem.

Marco Cecchinato  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
The swashbuckling style of tennis played by Cecchinato, as much as his big wins, endeared him to tennis fans and took him up to world no. 31, but things have been a bit quieter from the Italian ever since – unsurprising given how few of his career wins have come on surfaces other than clay. Cecchinato made the semifinals of Eastbourne but lost in the first round of Wimbledon; he picked up a second ATP World Tour 250 title on clay in Umag post-Wimbledon, but he is 3-6 since the ATP World Tour moved definitively on to hard courts, losing all four of the matches he played on American hard courts despite not facing a player ranked inside the top 40. 

Things have been looking up for Cecchinato in recent weeks, as he got a win over Lukas Lacko on indoor hard courts in St Petersburg, and one over Marcos Baghdatis in Beijing – almost unbelievably, the first two ATP World Tour singles wins on hard courts of his career, before picking up a third and fourth in Shanghai where he beat Gilles Simon in three tight sets and Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung (who also beat Djokovic at a major this year) in another match that went the distance.

Four of the six sets Cecchinato has played so far in Shanghai have gone to tie-breaks, and the courts in Shanghai do seem to be favouring effective servers and those who can attack the net. But against Djokovic, both serving and attacking the net become totally different and much more difficult propositions. On the average day, every aspect of Djokovic’s game is more consistent, more effective, efficient and intimidating than Cecchinato’s, especially away from clay courts, and one would expect Djokovic to record a one-sided and imposing victory to dismiss the Italian and book his place in the quarterfinals of the Rolex Shanghai Masters.  

Djokovic vs Cecchinato Shanghai Masters third-round tennis is live from Shanghai on Thursday at 3pm local/8am BST

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Djokovic vs Cecchinato tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Djokovic can avenge French Open defeat to Cecchinato in Shanghai

Novak Djokovic vs Marco Cecchinato live streaming, preview and predictions for the Shanghai Masters third-round match on Thursday 10 October 2018: Surprise Roland Garros semifinalist Cecchinato should be easy prey for revived Djokovic

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