Doha, Qatar: Novak Djokovic barely got out of the second gear in his opening match at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open but that was enough for the world No.1 to ease past Bosnia and Herzegovina's Damir Dzumhur (6-1, 6-2) and book his berth in the second round.
Djokovic, the 2016 and 2017 champion in Doha, won 58 points to his opponents 32, broke Dzumhur four times, and hardly broke a sweat during the 55-minute cruise.
"I tried to do everything right from the first moment, have a good focus and intensity and not allow my opponent to really feel like he has a chance to get back in the match and I was there basically every game, every point and I was happy the way that I was playing," said Djokovic.
And I'm happy I didn't spend too much time on the court. I've had plenty of time on the court in Abu Dhabi and now with doubles yesterday, so I'm looking forward to continuing playing this way.
The Serbian star will take on Hungary’s Márton Fucsovics, who eased past Romanian Marius Copil 6-3, 6-2, in the second round.
Earlier, Stan Wawrinka put in a sturdy performance to quell the challenge of highly-rated Karen Khachanov, winning in straight sets 7-6 (9-7), 6-4.
Wawrinka, the 2008 runner-up in Doha, was looking to find his rhythm after an injury-plagued year which saw his rankings drop to 263 at one point, while his young opponent was keen on continuing his sensational form of last season.
But Wawrinka’s power-packed backhands, which has been his signature shot, meant that Khachanov’s youthful exuberance would come up second best.
“Today was a great match, a great level after more than a year out. I think, as I said before the tournament, I was happy with the off-season I did. I worked long and really hard, hard enough to know that sooner or later it will pay off,” said Wawrinka.
“I'm feeling good physically. Tennis-wise also. Today is the first match of a year against an in-form player, who won Paris last year, already played three matches already this year, so I'm happy with the way I was playing today, so I'm looking forward for tomorrow.”
The Swiss ace plays Chilean Nicolas Jarry in the round of 16.
The shock result of the day was second seed Dominic Thiem's 6-3, 7-5 defeat at the hands of Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s only hope Mubarak Shannan lost to Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1, 6-3, but the youngster was delighted to have got such a big opportunity.
“It's my honour, like to play this ATP tournament, and I'm very happy that Qatar Tennis Federation gave me this opportunity to play. It wasn't an easy match for me. And I knew that I will have to work very hard to get like some games or some points. He wasn't giving me any chance to take any points unless, like, I really force it and get it like a really good point,” said Shannon.
In other matches, Italian Marco Cecchinato defeated Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-2, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic got the better of France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), David Goffin of Belgium lost to Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (4-7), Argentinian Guido Pella beat Turkey’s Cem Ilkel and Hungary’s Márton Fucsovics eased past Romanian Marius Copil 6-3, 6-2.