Dubai, United Arab Emirates (4E Sports) – Top seed Novak Djokovic opened his title defense at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Denis Istomin Tuesday.
Djokovic, who is eyeing his fifth title at this hard-court event, saved the four break points he faced and broke through late resistance from Istomin to seal victory in 84 minutes.
Djokovic improved his tournament record to 29-3 and his head-to-head record against Istomin to 5-0.
The 26-year-old Djokovic is looking to win his first ATP World Tour title of the season and a run to the semi-finals this week would see him claim his 550th tour-level match win.
Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed just 72 minutes to dismiss Victor Hanescu, 6-2, 6-4, in the first round. The Frenchman converted four of his 10 break points and won 72 per cent of his service points as he won the pair’s first meeting in six years.
Third seed Tomas Berdych extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 6-4 win over qualifier Marius Copil while sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny defeated Michal Przysiezny, 6-3, 6-4.
Youzhny goes on to face British wild card James Ward, who defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(6).
Radek Stepanek defeated Michael Russell, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, to set up a clash against fourth seed and five-time titlist Roger Federer in the second round.
Juan Martin del Potro was forced to retire from his first-round match due to a left wrist injury. The Argentine had lost the first set 7-6(3) to Somdev Devvarman when he conceded the match.
On the women’s side, second seed Klara Zakopalova defeated Donna Vekic, 6-3, 6-3, in the first round of the Brazil Tennis Cup.
Other winners were Danka Kovinic, Teliana Pereira, Kiki Bertens, Alize Lim, Alison Van Uytvanck, Alexandra Dulgheru and Alexandra Cadantu.