Tennis: Djokovic makes winning return in Mexico

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic stretches to hit a backhand against Slovak Martin Klizan at Acapulco. The Serb hit just nine winners in his straight-sets win - 16 fewer than Klizan. But he made only 11 unforced errors, compared to 30 by the southpaw.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic stretches to hit a backhand against Slovak Martin Klizan at Acapulco. The Serb hit just nine winners in his straight-sets win - 16 fewer than Klizan. But he made only 11 unforced errors, compared to 30 by the southpaw.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ACAPULCO (Mexico) • Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was made to work hard before finishing strongly to defeat Martin Klizan in straight sets on his return to competition at the ATP Acapulco event on Tuesday.

The Serb has not played since his shock second-round exit at the Australian Open in January and showed signs of rustiness before defeating Klizan 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in front of a raucous crowd.

"I wasn't expecting an easy match, that's for sure," said the world No. 2, who faces Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro next.

"The field here is very strong and I got a collision in the first round against a guy who is well known for playing his best tennis on the big stage. But all in all it was a good performance to win in straight sets.

"A tough second set but it's exactly what I needed at this moment to test myself and my game and I'm looking forward to the next challenge."

The 29-year-old Serb started slowly and was forced to save two break points in the third game of the first set before hanging on for a 2-1 lead. He had to save a further break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead but then swiftly punished the world No. 62 with a break to go 4-2 up. The contest then went with serve as Djokovic claimed the opening set.

Klizan was soon in trouble in the second set as the Slovak suffered a break in the opening game before Djokovic held serve for 2-0.

That proved to be the cue for a mini-collapse, however, as Djokovic was broken twice and Klizan raced into a 4-2 lead. But the 27-year-old's composure deserted him and Djokovic broke back and held to level at 4-4.

The set went with serve to go into a tie-break and once again Djokovic's superior experience in pressure situations paid off, Klizan snatching at a forehand that went long to give his opponent match point. Djokovic duly sealed the win with a deft lob that left Klizan scrambling to return before finishing with a volley into an open court.

Also on Tuesday, another former world No. 1, Rafael Nadal, made the second round. The world No. 6 took 1hr 17min to beat Germany's Mischa Zverev 6-4, 6-3, setting up a clash with Italian Paolo Lorenzi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ATP MEXICAN OPEN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline 'Djokovic makes winning return in Mexico'. Print Edition | Subscribe