Novak Djokovic battled back from 5-1 down against the world number 63 Jan-Lennard Struff to claim his first victory of the season at the Qatar Open in Doha on Monday.
The world number two lost his opening two service games to the German before rallying in determined fashion to eventually take the first-round match 7-6 (7/1), 6-2.
“It wasn’t a great start, I was 1-5 down, it didn’t look very good,” Djokovic said after winning in just under 90 minutes.
“It took me a little time to start reading his serve and after that it was a good performance.”
In total, his big-serving opponent thundered down nine aces.
Djokovic, who is the defending champion in Doha, hit 17 winners but also 20 unforced errors. The 12-time Grand Slam winner is looking to reclaim his number one ranking after suffering a relatively poor second half of the season in 2016.
The man who replaced Djokovic as the number one, Andy Murray, is also in Doha and is the tournament’s number one seed. If matches go to form the rivals will meet in a mouthwatering final on January 7.
Murray’s first-round match is against France’s Jeremy Chardy on Tuesday. The newly knighted Scotsman was in action in the doubles on Monday, but he and partner Mariusz Fyrstenberg lost in straight sets to David Marrero and Nenad Zimonjic.
Dustin Brown edged past Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis in three sets in the first round of the singles, 6-1, 6-7 (7/2), 6-4.