Djokovic makes winning return after a month off
By Bill Scott Feb 27, 2012, 17:37 GMT
Dubai - Novak Djokovic resumed where he left off a month ago as the top seed won his 21st career match at the Dubai Championships 6-4, 6-2 over German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe on Monday.
The Serbian world number one and winner of the last three editions was competing for the first time since winning an epic Australian Open final a month ago over Rafael Nadal which stretched to nearly six hours.
Djokovic didn't quite have it all his own way against his 72nd-ranked opponent, who refused to roll over in the face of overwhelming odds.
Stebe, who won a set off of Lleyton Hewitt in Melbourne, forced Djokovic to save a break point in the fourth game of the second set, with the seed finally moving through as planned in the end with two late breaks of the challenger.
'He played well, he's a young guy and came out with nothing to lose,' said Djokovic. 'I was impressed with his game in the first set.'
But he added: 'I was happy with my game throughout, I didn't have any low points in the whole match and not many unforced errors. He made me play but I'm happy with this after four weeks away.'
American Mardy Fish marked his first career trip to the Gulg emirate with a 6-1, 6-1 defeat of German Andreas Beck.
Fish, seeded sixth, needed less than an hour to to through into the second round to make second round along with Kazakh Andrey Golubev, who beat Djokovic's younger brother Marko 6-3, 6-2.
'Obviously it's nice to get through quickly early in the tournaments, but it gets tough from here on out for sure,' said Fish. 'I've never played him before. I assume he's played better matches for sure.
'But these courts suit me very well. So I'll get back out on the practice court tomorrow and try to fix a couple things, fix the serve a little bit. It's great to be playing here. I'm very, very happy with the court surface and the way that it plays.'
Golubev esily dispatched Marko Djokovic, ranked 869 in the world. The younger Serb was playing as a wild card but stood no chance after squandering an early break. Czech Lukas Rosol beat Adrian Mannarino of France 6-2, 6-2.
Read more about UAE
Read more about Tennis ATP