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Djokovic made to sweat for victory

Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was made to work hard before finishing strongly to defeat Martin Klizan in straight sets on his return to competition at the ATP Acapulco event yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Djokovic, 29, has not played since his shock second-round exit at the Australian Open in January, and showed signs of ring-rustiness before defeating Klizan 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in front of a raucous Mexican crowd.

"I wasn't expecting an easy match, that's for sure," said Djokovic.

"The field here is very strong and I got a collision in the first round against a guy who is well known for playing his best tennis on the big stage.

"But, all in all, it was a good performance to win in straight sets. A tough second set, but it's exactly what I needed at this moment to test myself and my game and I'm looking forward to the next challenge."

Djokovic ended the contest in style - a deft lob that left Klizan scrambling to return before finishing with a volley into an open court.

Another former world No. 1, Rafael Nadal, also eased into the second round yesterday morning with a straight-sets victory over Germany's Mischa Zverev.

Nadal took one hour and 17 minutes to advance past the world No. 30, 6-4, 6-3.

Australia's Bernard Tomic wilted in the sultry conditions against American Donald Young before retiring, citing the heat.

Tomic lost the first set in a tie-break 7-6 (7/5) but then retired before the second set got underway.

Tomic's fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios survived a scare in his opening-round game before defeating Israel's Dudi Sela in three sets, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

In other matches, third seed Marin Cilic advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has been given a wildcard to play in the Italian Open in May, organisers said yesterday.

The former world No. 1 makes her return to the circuit in Stuttgart in April after completing a 15-month ban for doping. Sharapova hasn't played on Tour since testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

An initial two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

She has also been handed a wildcard for the Madrid Open (May 6-13). - AFP