Novak Djokovic joins Roger Federer, Pete Sampras on exclusive list


Novak Djokovic is off to a winning start in Dubai, beating Tomas Machac 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and 27 minutes. Novak led 4-1 in the deciding set before Tomas bounced back, erasing the deficit and introducing a tie break. Djokovic stayed calm and claimed it 7-1 to seal the deal and remain perfect in 2023. It was Novak’s 300th successful tie break in a career on the ATP level, becoming the seventh player to achieve that in the Open era. Djokovic joined Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Ivo Karlovic, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner on the exclusive list. Also, Djokovic is 300-160 in the tie breaks, standing at the top as the most efficient player alongside Roger Federer. Novak played his first match after claiming the tenth Australian Open title and made a reliable start. The Serb grabbed a break in the opener’s fourth game before losing serve in the next one.

Machac lost the ground behind the initial shot again in game six and fell 4-2 behind. Djokovic increased the advantage with a fine hold a few minutes later and clinched the set 6-3 with a hold at love in game nine. The Czech served at only 50% in the second set, which was not an obstacle for him. He played well behind the initial shot, grabbed an early break and clinched the set on his serve at 5-3. Tomas forced Novak’s backhand error in the second game to open a 2-0 gap and settle into a fine rhythm. The Czech moved 3-0 in front with a comfortable hold and created more break chances in game four.

Novak Djokovic is the seventh player with 300 triumphant tie breaks.

Novak saved two break points to remain within one break deficit, and they both produced reliable holds in the next four games. Tomas served for the set at 5-3 and faced a break point after a wayward backhand. He denied it with a backhand down the line winner and wrapped up the set after Novak’s loose forehand to force a decider. Djokovic repelled a break point at the start of the final set and gained a boost. Machac asked for a medical timeout on his right hand and suffered a break at love at 1-2 when his backhand landed long. The Serb produced a comfortable hold in the next one for 4-1 and moved closer to the finish line. Djokovic saved a break point in game seven and faced the second after netting a forehand. Novak landed a backhand long to bring the rival back to the positive side.

Machac held in game eight after deuce to rattle off three straight games and level the score at 4-4. Djokovic ended his downfall with an easy winner at the net in game nine and moved 30-15 up on the return in the next one. Tomas grabbed the next point with a serve & volley combo and closed the game with a powerful serve for 5-5. The Serb fired a service winner in the 11th game for a hold at 30 and another advantage. Machac served to stay in the match at 5-6 and played bold and aggressive shots for a hold at 15 and a deciding tie break. Novak forced the rival’s mistake in the fourth point and fired a service winner for 4-1. The Serb claimed a return point to increase the advantage and fired a return winner for five match points. Djokovic seized the first with a forehand winner to seal the deal and move into the second round.

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