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Federer eases past Somdev in Dubai

February 23, 2011 11:02 IST

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic began his bid for a third successive Dubai title with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over France's Michael Llodra on Tuesday.

Top seed and four-times champion Roger Federer posted an identical score against Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman as he too shook off the rust in his first match since losing to Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Back on court for the first time since he thrashed Andy Murray in Melbourne three weeks ago to bag a second slam title, second seed Djokovic was barely troubled by an opponent who beat him in their previous meeting at the Paris Masters in November.

"I didn't know how I'm going to start the tournament after three weeks of not playing an official match, so I have to say I'm happy with today," Djokovic told reporters.

"I think he didn't serve as well and as fast as our last match in Paris a couple of months back. But still, I managed to return a lot of balls and make him play an extra shot," he added.

Somdev DevvarmanDjokovic has chosen to play doubles at several events in the next few weeks, partnering fellow Serb Viktor Troicki at Indian Wells and Murray in Miami as well as with his brother Marko in Dubai, losing 6-4, 6-1 to Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes.

The 23-year-old said the move was aimed at adding another dimension to his predominantly baseline game.

"One of the reasons playing doubles is to work on the serve and volley game and return," Djokovic said.

"It's good. It helps. Hopefully I can have fun with it as well.

"It's not easy after playing 23 years from the baseline you want to step into the court and go to the net a little bit. But, you know, I'm working on that variety in my game, using the serves well, and I did well today," he added.

World number two Federer, who holds a narrow points lead over Djokovic in the rankings, used his victory over Devvarman as a tune-up, admitting the warm conditions were tricky.

"I think it's always pretty tough starting here in Dubai," Federer, who last won the title in 2007, said.

"The ball flies quite a bit. Even me who's practiced here so many times and been here a week now, you almost feel like you're rusty but you're not.

"You know, when the ball has a lot of topspin and you don't quite catch it right, it flies out two meters. It can take away your confidence. It's tricky. It's about coming through and giving yourself a second chance the next day," he added.

Seventh seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis lasted only 23 minutes against Kazak Andrey Golubev, losing the first four games before retiring with illness, and Serbian sixth seed Troicki was beaten 6-1, 7-6 by Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

Nikolay Davydenko has been struggling of late, but the Russian took just 57 minutes to overwhelm Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-2, 6-0.

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