DOHA, January 4, 2016
World number one Novak Djokovic made a successful start into the year 2016, winning his opening match at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in Doha against Dustin Brown 6-2, 6-2.
In the pair’s first tour meeting, the 28-year-old Serbian won 71% of his first service points and converted 5 of his 12 break point opportunities to seal victory in only 51 minutes.
“He’s definetely one of the most interesting players on the tour. The way he playes, the way he moves, the way he looks – he is a great guy. I have known him for a long time now and he had a couple of great weeks last year. He has a bit of an unorthodox game, he just comes out and just fires all the shots. Today, he wasn’t making on any first serves, which gave me the opportunity to step in,” Djokovic told about his opponent afterwards.
“It’s been six weeks since I played the last match, so I was very excited to go back to the court and compete and see how I go,” said the top-seed. “Obviously you never know how you’re going to start from the blocks. You can do your best to prepare yourself well, which I did. I think I used the off season very well to train to get my body in the right shape, and I think it was a very good start.”
“I think the biggest challenge is, as it is in any of the previous years for me, is to really be consistent with my success throughout the year, try to stay healthy and try to maintain the high level of performance,” said Djokovic, who reached 15 straight finals since he lost to Ivo Karlovic at the quarterfinals in Doha last year. “That’s what I try to focus my mind on.
“If I start thinking too much about certain tournaments, it can present a kind of a distraction to me so you try not to do that. I try to actually be as much as I can in the present and work my way through and effect whatever I can effect. That’s really working on my game, training myself to be strong and to play confident tennis. And I know as a consequence to that, the results will be positive, I’m hoping, obviously.”
Djokovic will face the winner of the match between Fernando Verdasco and Malek Jaziri next. The Spaniard was in doubles action today, teaming-up with Rafael Nadal. The two Spaniards lost in a tight match 6-7, 6-4, 9-11 to Teymuraz Gabashvili and Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Nadal captured his third title at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi last Saturday and is having a fully packed first part of the new season ahead. Playing here in Doha, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, probably Buenos Aires, Indian Wells and Miami, the world number 5 will not return home until April. His singles campaign will start in the desert on Wednesday, facing fellow countryman Pablo Carreno-Busta.
In an all-Spanish-affair Daniel Munoz de la Nava upset fifth seed Feliciano López, winning 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 in the pair’s first meeting since the Rado Orange Bowl Tennis Championships in 1999. Munoz de la Nava, who clinched three ATP Challenger titles in 2015, cracking the top 100 by the age of 33 for the first time, withstood 24 aces winning 75% of his own first service points. The world number 75 from Madrid sealed victory in two hours and 25 minutes.
Munoz de la Nava will take on qualifier Kyle Edmund, who clinched three ATP Challenger titles in 2015 and crowned his successful year by winning the Davis Cup with Great Britain. During the off-season, the world number 102 beat Andy Murray in the final of the inaugural Tie Break Tens in London and also had a winning start into 2016. Edmund ousted Martin Klizan 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 10 minutes.