Tennis

Djokovic survives scare in Doha

Novak Djokovic battled back from 5-1 down against world No. 63 Jan-Lennard Struff to claim his first victory of the season at the Qatar Open yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The world No. 2 lost his opening two service games and struggled with the German's big serves in the early exchanges.

But the Serb rallied in determined fashion to eventually take the first-round match 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

"It wasn't a great start, I was 1-5 down, it didn't look very good," Djokovic said after winning in just under 90 minutes.

He attributed his slow start to early-season rustiness rather than any long-term concerns over his form, following a relatively poor second half of last season.

"I guess I had to get more time to get the engine started.

"It's the first match of the year, you never know how you're going to start.

"I mean, I was a bit flat on my feet, and Struff, credit to him for playing aggressive, hitting the serves well, and ripping (the) ball from the baseline.

"But I stayed composed because I knew, I believed that I could find the rhythm, start reading his serve better, and that's what happened."

Djokovic, who is the defending champion in Doha, hit 17 winners but also 20 unforced errors.

His opponent thundered down nine aces. - AFP

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