World No. 2 Novak Djokovic opened his title defense in Dubai with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3 win over Denis Istomin in first round action on Tuesday.
Playing in just his second event of the season, the Serb never lost serve in the win.
“It wasn’t as easy as the scoreline indicates,” said Djokovic. “I needed to work for my games. My serve worked really well in the second set, and that helped me to get some free points. But having not played for more than four, five weeks, an official match, obviously it takes its toll on the court. I practiced a lot. I put in a lot of hours on the court, trying to develop my game, trying to get myself in the right shape, and it’s going to click sooner or later.”
Tomorrow during a star-studded Dubai night session, Djokovic will play Roberto Bautista Agut, that after 5-time champion Roger Federer returns to face fellow veteran Radek Stepanek.
“He won against Del Potro in the Australian Open, if I’m not mistaken, in a thrilling five sets,” Djokovic said. “He has improved his game significantly since last year, and winning against Del Potro in a Grand Slam says enough about his quality. I’m going to get out on the court and try to win that match, of course, not underestimating my opponent.”
Speaking of Agut, Juan Martin del Potro who lost to the Spaniard at the Australian was forced out of the tournament after dropping the opening tiebreaker to Somdev Devvarman. Del Potro again cited continued pain in his troubles left wrist. He’s expected to return to Argentina where he’ll undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
“It’s hurting all the time, and it’s sometimes less and sometimes little more,” del Potro said. “But it’s hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time. He’s trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what it’s my limit playing on court. Today was enough. Now I will see what he says for the future, and I will let you know very soon what’s my plans gonna be.”
Other winners were Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nikolay Davydenko.
In Acapulco on the hardcourts, in the battle of the two tallest players on the tour, Ivo Karlovic got the better of John Isner in (surprise!) two tiebreaks.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Isner who drops to 2-3 against the Croat. “I wanted to do well in here, is a good surface for me, but I played against a guy who played well against me”.
In a late match, second seed Andy Murray overcame a set deficit to turn away Rio clay finalist Pablo Andujar 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Top seed David Ferrer also won as did Grigor Dimitrov, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and Marseille champion Ernests Gulbis. Lopez and Ferrer will meet on Wednesday as will big men Kevin Anderson and Sam Querrey.
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