Novak Djokovic turned the tables on Tomas Berdych at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory in the opening Group A match at the O2 Arena this afternoon.
The last time this pair met in the capital was in the Wimbledon semi-finals this summer, when Berdych eased to a straight-sets triumph before losing to Rafael Nadal in his first grand slam final.
That was the only time in four previous meetings that the Czech has got the better of Djokovic, though, and his form since Wimbledon has been indifferent to say the least.
What Berdych needed was a good start but instead he made the worst possible one by conceding a break in the first game.
Djokovic had four more chances in an epic third game but this time his opponent, who is the only debutant among the eight finalists, just about held on.
Berdych was not helping himself with a woeful display of serving and it was not until he had cut out the double faults and found some first serves that he began to at least find a foothold in the match.
The odd bright spot aside, it was not the sort of tennis the decent-sized crowd had come to see and the biggest cheer was for Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona, back at the O2 for a second successive day.
Another error-strewn game from Berdych handed Djokovic two set points, and he duly converted on the first.
In contrast to his opponent, the Serb, who has enjoyed an impressive autumn, appeared to be in good touch, particularly on his forays to the net.
Djokovic, the 2008 champion, made it four games in a row by breaking again in Berdych's first service game of the second set and, although the 25-year-old did eventually stop the rot, it was far too late to change the outcome.