Novak Djokovic survives first round scare in ATP return in Dubai

Novak Djokovic in action

Novak Djokovic had to survive a rollercoaster battle with Czech Thomas Machac at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday evening.

Headlining the second day’s play, Djokovic made what appeared to be a routine start to a sraightforward win when he claimed the openig set 6-3; however the result was reversed in the second set.

In the third set, Djokovic was taken to a tiebreaker, but at the crucial moment he found a way to come out on top at last.

Machac clearly raised his game while standing opposite the world No 1, and Djokovic commended his performance.

“Tomas certainly didn’t play like the No. 130 in the world today,” Djokovic said of Machac.

“He was giving me all kinds of trouble. But i guess when it mattered, I found another gear.”

Much like last season when Djokovic also returned to the tour in Dubai, he is using this event to get back up to speed after a spell out of the game with injury.

“Physically you can always be better,” said Djokovic, who was playing his first match since his Australian Open title run. “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.”

He was thrilled to be able to come to Dubai, a place that he has often used as a training base during his off-season.

Speaking ahead of the tournament he said: “It’s great to be back in Dubai. Always loved coming to play here the tournament, but also using Dubai as a great training base, particularly in the off-season, as a lot of other male and female tennis players going to Australia.

“Dubai is an amazing city that offers so much for a person to enjoy himself or herself, entertainment, great hotels, great restaurants, great weather, climate. So for tennis players, it’s a fantastic place.

“Tournament itself has been voted as a best tournament in category 500 for so many years in a row. The tournament has been attracting so many top players over the years.

“As you mentioned, I’ve had some success in the past. Tough to pick which of those five titles is the favorite one. I guess the first one is always the special one. I’ve had lots of support over the years, last year particularly from also big Serbian community that is in the city.

“I look forward to it. Night matches are exciting. A lot of entertainment. I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to kind of restart in a way my season after Australia, the injury, in the best possible way.”

Djokovic will face World No 39 Tallon Griekspoor in the Round of 16.

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