No Easy Day For Djokovic In Dubai Opener Against A Qualifier; Medvedev Rolls

by Staff | February 28th, 2023, 7:10 pm
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Five-time champ Novak Djokovic opened his Dubai campaign Tuesday but it was largely as struggle as the top seed squeaked by 22-year-old qualifier Tomas Machac 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7-1).

Djokovic, ranked No. 1, hit 12 aces along with eight doubles. But the Serb couldn’t keep a 4-1 lead in the third as the Czech came back to push a breaker.

“Tomas certainly didn’t play like the No. 130 in the world today,” Djokovic said. “He was giving me all kinds of trouble. But I guess when it mattered, I found another gear.”


Djokovic was playing his first match since his Australian Open title a month ago. He had also been getting his hamstring right.

“Physically you can always be better,” said Djokovic. “I demand the highest of standards, levels, and quality of tennis and preparation that I can possibly get.

“I did struggle with injury for several weeks and it took me a little bit of time to get used to holding the racquet. I haven’t played much tennis coming into Dubai, so I’m hoping that as the tournament progresses, I can raise the level of tennis as well.”

Djokovic improves to 13-0 on the season and he’ll return tomorrow to face Tallon Griekspoor. Overall, he’s won his last 18 matches.

No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev upped his win streak to 10 cruising past Matteo Arnaldi 6-4, 6-2. Medvedev never faced a break point taking the last three games of the contest.

Also, 4th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime edged Maxime Cressy in three sets 7-6(7-4), 3-6, 6-3. Marseille winner Hubert Hurkacz won a thriller over Russia’s Alexander Shevchenko in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(9-7).

Botic Van De Zandschulp of Netherlands upset No. 6 Karen Khachanov in two sets 7-5, 6-2. And 8th-seeded Borna Coric got a retirement from Dan Evans at 2-all in the first.

On tap tomorrow, feature matches second round matches see Djokovic – Griekspoor, No. 2 Andrey Rublev – Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Medvedev – Alexander Bublik, Auger-Aliassime – Lorenzo Sonego, Hurkacz – Pavel Kotov, No. 7 Alexander Zverev – Christopher O’Connell and No. 8 Borna Coric – Thanasi Kokkinakis.


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