Basel: Nole wins in return to action

Photo: AP

Nole made a winning return from a six-week break he needed in order to recover from a back injury.

The world no.1 defeated no.47 in the ATP rankings Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in 2 hours and 11 minutes in the first round of the Swiss Indoors Basel tournament on Tuesday.

Novak made an early break and held for 3-0 lead. He broke the Belgian again in the eighth game to take the set 6-2.

Mallise put up some solid resistance in the second set. He broke Nole in the ninth game and won the set 6-4.

The 24-year-old Belgrade native quickly regrouped and raced to 3-0 in the decisive third set. He was serving for match at 5-3, but double-faulted on a break point to hand the unseeded Belgian a break back. However, Novak managed to break his opponent’s serve once again in the 12th game using the first of three match points to clinch a victory in his first match since September 18.

“I hoped that we would not get to the tie-break,” Nole said. “It’s really unpredictable in the third set tie-break who’s going to win. He made a couple of mistakes. I made some returns in. Overall, it wasn’t a great match for me. I played many, many better matches this year than this one, but under the circumstances, for me the most important thing now is that I feel good on the court physically.”

The top-ranked Serbian star now has a 65-3 record this year.

The Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion will face a qualifier in the second round on Thursday. It will be either world no.64 Poland’s Lukasz Kubot or no.96 ranked German Tobias Kamke.

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