• ATP Tour

Djokovic unconvincing in China opener

ESPN staff
October 2, 2012
Novak Djokovic has won the China Open twice © PA Photos

Novak Djokovic looked far from comfortable as he kicked off his bid for a third China Open title on Tuesday, eventually beating Michael Berrer in three sets.

Djokovic, who won the event in 2009 and 2010, is bidding to bounce back following his recent US Open final defeat to Andy Murray. However, he looked short of rhythm against Berrer in Beijing, winning 6-1 6-7(3) 6-2 in two hours.

Dropping 11 points on serve in the opening set, Djokovic initially looked a class above his rival as he broke twice to establish his authority. Berrer had few answers, particularly on second serve, and the German quickly fell a set behind.

The second set was a different story, although Djokovic became even more dominant behind his own delivery. The Serb dropped five points in his six service games, but Berrer also stepped up his game, rattling down seven aces.

It went to a tiebreaker and Berrer took control early, moving to a 5-3 advantage. Djokovic had serves to close the gap but failed as the crowd were treated to a deciding set.

Clearly angered by the loss of the breaker, Djokovic instantly buckled down to re-establish control in the third set, forcing Berrer to deuce on his first service game before clinching the break. There was still work to be done as Djokovic battled to cement that lead in the next game, but that proved to be Berrer's final response.

Djokovic will meet Carlos Berlocq in round two after the Argentine beat Marinko Matosevic 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Elsewhere, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was pushed all the way by Denis Istomin in a 4-6 6-1 7-6(3) victory. Istomin actually created more break chances than the third seed but only took one of six en route to defeat.

Seventh seed Tommy Haas is out after he was beaten 6-4 4-6 6-2 by Mikhail Youzhny, who was joined in the next round by compatriot Nikolay Davydenko - a 7-5 6-1 winner over Alex Bogomolov Jr.

There were also wins for Jurgen Melzer, Richard Gasquet and Andreas Seppi.

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