MEXICO CITY: Novak Djokovic beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the opening round of the Mexican Open on Tuesday.
The win was Djokovic’s first since his shocking loss in the second round of the Australian Open.
“It’s always tough to win the first match but I’m happy with my game, especially in the first set, hopefully I can keep playing like that,” Djokovic said. “I have not played since Australia and I felt out of rhythm out there. Klizan is an aggressive player and he’s not afraid and I needed to give my best to win it.”
The 29-year-old Serbian, ranked No. 2, played his first tournament since Jan. 19, when he suffered an unexpected loss to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. Djokovic, making his debut in Acapulco, saved four break points to take the first set Tuesday, struggled in the second set and needed a tiebreaker to take down Klizan in about 1 1/2 hours.
Djokovic, the top seed in Mexico, will play against Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro, who needed 2:31:19 to defeat American Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1).
It will be the first match between them since the first round of the Olympic tournament in Rio 2016, when Del Potro, the 2009 US Open winner, ousted Djokovic 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in the first round.
Djokovic, who skipped Dubai for the first time in seven years, is the first favorite in Mexico. The second is Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who had a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over Mischa Zverev.
Nadal, a two-time winner in Acapulco, will play Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the next round.
The Spaniard has an 11-0 record in Mexico.
Earlier, third-seeded Marin Cilic reached the second round with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov, a wild-card entry.
The 28-year-old Cilic is struggling this year with a 4-4 record. He was beaten in the second round in the Australian Open and Montpellier and reached the quarterfinals in Rotterdam.
Another player who*s struggling this year is Australian Bernard Tomic, who retired in the first set of his match against American Donald Young.
Tomic, who lost the Acapulco final a year ago when he was a top-20 player in the world, is in a downward spiral in 2017 and lost in the first round for the fourth time in five tournaments.
Also on Tuesday, Ernesto Escobedo defeated Stefan Kozlov 6-1, 2-6, 6-0, in a duel between Americans and will play against Steve Johnson in the second round.
Another American that moved on was Sam Querrey, who took care of Kyle Edmund, from Great Britain, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Querrey, who reached the semifinals in Acapulco in 2016, will face Belgian David Goffin, the fifth-seed in Mexico.
In other matches, Australian Nick Kyrgios (6) struggled but managed a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela while defending champion and fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem defeated Giles Simon 7-6 (7), 6-3.
On the women’s side of the Mexican Open, four of the top six seeded players moved on the second round after Canadian Eugenie Bouchard (6) suffered and upset to Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, who prevailed in straight sets, 7-6 (4), 6-1.
The first-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, from Croatia, defeated Belinda Bencic, from Switzerland, 7-5, 6-4; Jelena Ostapenko (3), from Latvia, got a 6-2, 6-2 win over Danka Kovinic, from Montenegro; Puerto Rican Monica Puig (4) beat Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6 (4) while American Christina McHale (5) took care of Fiona Ferro, from France, by 6-4, 6-4.
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