DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Top-seeded Novak Djokovic said he didn't play his best but still was a two-set winner Tuesday in the first round of the $2.2 million Dubai Tennis Championships.
Djokovic needed more than an hour and a half to finish off a 6-3, 6-2 win over Flavio Cipolla. While the score was lopsided, Djokovic said the match showed his lack of practice time in the United Arab Emirates, where he arrived just two days ago.
"I'm happy that I'm through in straight sets but certainly it wasn't the performance I was looking for," Djokovic said. "I didn't expect him to play so many short balls and with a change of pace and that's probably what didn't give me a lot of rhythm."
Third-seeded Gilles Simon dropped the first set of his match before escaping a challenge from Mohammed Ghareeb 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 and sixth-seeded Igor Andreev defeated Rik De Voest 6-4, 6-0. But No. 8-seeded Marat Safin fell to Richard Gasquet 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Also Tuesday, Arnaud Clement stopped Rainer Schuettler 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Jan Hernych won 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 over Mikhail Youzhny.
Also winning first-round matches were Simon Bolelli, Julien Benneteau, Dmitry Tursunov and Philipp Kohlschreiber.