In his first tournament match since his US Open title, Novak Djokovic survived a three-set scare to oust Xavier Malisse 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the first round of the Swiss Indoors.
Djokovic avoided his 4th loss of the season keeping him even with John McEnroe’s three defeats in 1984.
“Overall, it wasn’t a great match for me,” Djokovic said. “I played many, many better matches this year than this one, but under the circumstances, for me the most important thing now is that I feel good on the court physically.”
The Serb made another grand entrance wearing a mask when he walked on the court, a tradition he says he started five years ago.
“Every year for the last five years it’s a tradition at Halloween, which usually is during Paris-Bercy, that I go out with some crazy mask,” said Djokovic. “This year it happened one week earlier, so I hope that people don’t mind. It was just tradition and a little bit of fun.”
I wonder if Malisse thought it was fun that Novak was so concerned about playing the Belgian that he came out in a mask? Just wondering.
In other action, James Blake got through when countryman Mardy Fish retired in the first game with a hamstring pull. Those injuries usually take weeks, not days, to heal leaving Fish’s London hopes in some doubt.
And Kei Nishikori continued his strong late-season run beating Tomas Berdych in three sets.
Tomorrow, Andy Murray meets Robin Haase and Andy Roddick faces Tommy Haas. Swiss favorite Roger Federer returns against Jarkko Nieminen. All three should be decent matches.
In Valencia, with Fish injured Nicolas Almagro blew a chance to close in on a London qualification. Almagro lost to Juan Monaco in three sets. David Ferrer, a winner over Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils and JW Tsonga were also winners.
Tomorrow, Marin Cilic clashes with Milos Raonic in a good one. Cilic who just collected the St. Petersburg title Sunday has won 11 of his last 13 matches. Juan Martin Del Potro will try to keep his slim London hopes alive against the unpredictable Dmitry Tursunov.
Tennis Channel has live TV coverage from Basel all day with Tipsarevic, Murray, Federer then Roddick.
WEDNESDAY BASEL SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 14:00
 J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs F Mayer (GER)
Not Before 16:00
R Haase (NED) vs  [WC] A Murray (GBR)
Not Before 18:00
J Nieminen (FIN) vs  R Federer (SUI)
Not Before 20:00
 A Roddick (USA) vs T Haas (GER)
WEDNESDAY VALENCIA SCHEDULE
AGORA start 1:00 pm
M Cilic (CRO) vs M Raonic (CAN)
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs [Q] V Pospisil (CAN)
 J del Potro (ARG) vs D Tursunov (RUS)
P Andujar (ESP) vs  G Monfils (FRA)
A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs  F Lopez (ESP)
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