Novak is back in action this week for the first time since collecting his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Top seed Novak Djokovic began his quest for a sixth Dubai crown on Tuesday.
The world no.1 improved to a perfect 13-0 record in 2023, following a hard fought 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (1) victory over Tomas Machac in two hours and 27 minutes.
Novak was made to work hard to reach the second round. He broke first for a 3-1 lead, but his rival fought back immediately. Another break by Djokovic followed, this time it was enough for the top-seeded Serbian star to seal the first set. The Czech qualifier took the second set to force a decider. The tie break had to decide the winner, after the two had traded break once in the third set. Novak came through taking it convincingly, 7-1.
“Tomas certainly didn’t play like a 130 in world today,” Djokovic said. “He was giving me all kinds of trouble. But i guess when it mattered, I found another gear.”
Match statistics: aces (12-6), double faults (8-4), total points won (104-90).
Novak will next meet Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands (H2H 1-0, ATP #39), who defeated Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the opener.
The 35-year-old Belgrade native has a 44-7 match record at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 outdoor hard-court event, including titles in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2020.
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