Novak Djokovic was probably more in need of a run-out in his first tournament since the Australian Open, but instead it was Juan Martin del Potro who was pushed to the limit in his opening match here at the Dubai Duty Free Championships. While Djokovic took just 67 minutes to beat his fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, 6-1, 6-4, Del Potro needed two and a half hours to get past Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
Del Potro who has played two indoor tournaments since Melbourne, struggled to adjust to the heat and quicker outdoor conditions. He came back from a break down in the second set and saved three match points when serving at 4-5 in the decider before taking the tie-break 7-4.
The Argentine admitted he was tired after a busy February, though a greater concern is a recurrence of the wrist trouble which kept him out of the game for most of 2010. Del Potro said he had been feeling wrist pain, but his doctor had not advised him against playing. The world No 7 now meets Victor Hanescu.
Nikolay Davydenko was expecting a long afternoon after taking 30 minutes to win the first two games against Janko Tipsarevic, who has had his own fitness issues of late, but won 6-0, 7-5. Tipsarevic, who took a comfort break after the first set, improved in the second but did not win a game after serving at 5-4. "He played better after he came back from the toilet," Davydenko said. "I don't know what he did in there."
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who won the title in Marseilles 48 hours earlier, also found the transition to outdoor tennis hard and was beaten 7-6, 6-2 by Michaël Llodra.