Djokovic barrels into 3rd rd.

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Novak Djokovic goes into round three in Shanghai after beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-5 (AFP Photo/WANG ZHAO)

SHANGHAI, China — Imperious Novak Djokovic declared that he was “a completely different player” from the first half of this year after he beat France’s Jeremy Chardy, 6-3, 7-5, to roll into the Shanghai Masters third round on Tuesday.

The rejuvenated Serbian second seed has now won all 12 matches against Chardy and this victory was never in doubt.

The 31-year-old Djokovic had to contend with a more stubborn Chardy in the second set, before the world number three’s superior shot-making won through in 83 minutes.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion missed six months of competition in 2017 and had elbow surgery in February.

But he has burst back to form and fitness since the summer, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and the Masters 1000 Cincinnati in a terrific run, and says he is back close to his best.

Djokovic, who is eyeing Rafael Nadal’s number one ranking, said: “I haven’t won too many matches the beginning of the year.

“After the surgery I was not managing to play my best, and that has changed, so obviously the more you win, the more comfortable and more confident you feel on the court.”

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