Australian Open finalists Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both rolled Tuesday at the Dubai Open. Four-time Dubai champion Djokovic eased past Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-4 in his first match since winning the Australian Open earlier this month.
“I’m still looking for that rhythm on the court,” said Djokovic. “But I managed to stay mentally tough. I was patient in rallies, I thought. As soon as we get through the rally, I have a better chance of winning. He’s a very flashy player, aggressive, goes after his shots.
“He served well first set. I just utilised my opportunities. When his first serve percentage dropped, I knew that’s my chance. I won a lot of those second serve points. I think that’s what decided the match, even though my serve wasn’t at the level where I wanted it to be today. So hopefully the next match can be better.”
Murray, who lost to Djokovic in the final, knocked out the dangerous Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-5.
“I think the end of both sets I didn’t serve so well,” said Murray. “But apart from that, I didn’t give him any opportunities really. I feel like I got a little bit unlucky at the end of the second set. He got a couple of net cords in that last game, the 5-4 game where I got broken, and did very well to respond straightaway and get the break right back. I thought I played a fairly high quality match.”
Tomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez and Roberta Bautista Agut were among the other seeded winners.
Tomorrow, 6-time champion Roger Federer returns against former Spanish Top 10 Fernando Verdasco. Djokovic meets the free-swinging Andrey Golubiez. Murray will take on Joao Sousa. Berdych will also go for his 500th career win.
In Buenos Aires, Rafael Nadal begins his Buenos Aires title bid as the former No. 1 makes his first appearance in 10 years in Buenos Aires. The Spaniard has not played in the Argentine capital since his 2005 debut, when he was beaten in the quarterfinals by Gaston Gaudio. Nadal is bidding to win his 65th tour-level title, and 46th on clay.
Last week Nadal was stunned in semifinals in Rio by Fabio Fognini.
“I’m very excited to return to Argentina in February to play the Argentina Open,” said Nadal. “I love playing in Latin American because it feels like home. After having to pull out at the last minute this season due to stomach problems, I’m very excited to go back in 2015. I hope I can play my best tennis there and see all the Argentine fans, who love our sport so much.”
Nadal will play the winner between Arguello and Montanes.
In Acapulco, defending champion Grigor Dimitrov overcame a second set lapse to put away Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-0.
“I’m happy to be back here,” Dimitrov said. “It brings back good memories, and I feel like I’m always playing good matches here.
“It was a bit of a weird match today. The conditions weren’t easy, and we also know each other pretty good… As soon as the third set started, it was a fresh start for me. I had a three-sets win, but I’m really happy I finished on that note.”
Kei Nishikori later won his 200th career match beating Alejandro Gonzalez.
Tomorrow, both Dimitrov and Nishikori are back on court as is Grigor’s girlfriend Maria Sharapova.
In Doha, Venus Williams advanced to the quarterfinals after saving a matchpoint in her win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5).
Jelena Jankovic, Karolina Pliskova and Andrea Petkovic were among the other winners.
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