Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic reached the second round of the Dubai Championships by beating Michael Llodra of France 6-3, 6-3 yesterday in his first match since winning his second Grand Slam title.
Djokovic had little trouble against Llodra, losing his serve only once at the Aviation Club.
“I have to say I’m happy with the performance today,” said Djokovic, who was beaten by Llodra in November last year at the Paris Masters. “I think he didn’t serve as well and as fast as our last match in Paris. But still, I was managing to return a lot of balls back and making him play an extra shot.”
Djokovic also said he was working on his serve-and-volley and would play doubles with his brother Marko later in the afternoon. The brothers lost to Indian pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes 6-4, 6-1.
“It’s not easy after playing 23 years from the baseline. You want to step into the court and go to the net a little bit,” Djokovic said.
Also, seventh-seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus retired against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan because of the flu while trailing 4-0 in the first set.
Baghdatis called for the trainer after he went down 3-0 to the 44th-ranked Golubev. He played one more game before retiring, becoming the second seeded player in two days to withdraw.
On Monday, fifth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia withdrew in the second set with a leg injury against Ukrainian qualifier Sergei Bubka.
The 20th-ranked Baghdatis said he has been in bed with a high temperature for the past five or six days and had only been on the practice court for about 10 minutes. He said he felt better heading into the match but then “had no energy” once he started playing.
“I think I came here to give it a try. Why not come here and try, you know?” Baghdatis said.
Nikolay Davydenko of Russia also advanced, beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-2, 6-0, while Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany defeated Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-1, 7-6 (2).
Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun also had to retire after 20 minutes of play because of illness from his match to Feliciano Lopez of Spain, who had been leading 5-0.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER