Abu Dhabi: Novak Djokovic began his preparations for the new season on Thursday with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Gael Monfils at the World Tennis Championship exhibition event.
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic is coming off a 70-6 season in which he won three Grand Slam titles. The 24-year-old Serb ended his best ever season with two tired losses at the ATP World Tour Finals last month but got back to winning ways against the No. 16-ranked Monfils.
Djokovic will face Roger Federer in the semifinals on Friday when Rafael Nadal will meet fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.
Ferrer earlier beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga of France 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the $250,000 winner-takes-all six-man championship.
Djokovic, who blamed fatigue for an early exit at the ATP finals last month, said he was still not fully fit and probably needed another week or two to be match ready. But he said he has no plans to play any other warm-up tournaments ahead of the Australian Open which runs from Jan. 16-29 — a strategy that served him well last season.
"I was working on some things throughout the match. I was trying to find a good rhythm and I think I was playing really well for this stage," Djokovic said. "I am saying that as I am not yet 100 percent ready to perform at this level."
Djokovic said he looked forward with his clash with Federer, who received a bye to reach the semifinals. "It is always a challenge to play Federer whether it is a tournament or exhibition," he said. "He will always make you play well."
The fifth-ranked Ferrer blamed his poor service game for allowing Tsonga to take the early lead before he won the match in just over two hours.
"It was a tough game. I served very badly in the first set. I did not have a good feeling," Ferrer said. "But in the second set, I don't know what happened to him. Maybe he was a bit tired. In the third, he also served worse."