Novak Djokovic beats Gael Monfils

Updated: December 29, 2011, 12:43 PM ET
Associated Press

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Top-ranked Novak Djokovic began his preparations for the 2012 season with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over No. 16 Gael Monfils at the World Tennis Championship exhibition event on Thursday.

Djokovic is coming off three Grand Slam wins during a 70-6 season. The 24-year-old Serb ended his best season with two tired losses at the ATP World Tour Finals last month.

Djokovic will face Roger Federer in the semifinals on Friday, and 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 six-man field of the $250,000 winner-takes-all exhibition.

Djokovic said he's not in top form and probably needs another week or two to be match ready. But he said he doesn't plan to play any other warm-up tournaments ahead of the Australian Open, which run Jan. 16-29.

"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 match 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."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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