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Djokovic Survives Early Scare In No. 1 Debut

Montreal, Canada

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is undefeated in Masters 1000 action this season.

Novak Djokovic survived an early scare in his debut match as the World No. 1, coming from a double-break down to defeat Russian Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 6-1 Wednesday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Playing his first match since winning Wimbledon and ascending to No. 1 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, Djokovic looked in danger of losing just his second match of the season as he fell behind 1-4 against the former World No. 3.

Davydenko was unable to maintain his advantage, however, as Djokovic drew level at 4-all. The Serbian broke Davydenko for a third time to secure the opening set and rolled through the second set with ease, preventing the Russian from winning a single service game.

“He didn't give me a lot of rhythm in the start of the match,” said Djokovic. “I didn't play a match for four weeks. It took me some time to get used to the conditions, get into the match. I needed to hang in there. I needed to wait for the chances. I did. I turned the match around on 4-1 when I broke him the first time. Then I felt much more comfortable.”

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Djokovic won this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on his tournament debut in 2007, defeating the ATP’s top three players - No. 3 Andy Roddick, No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 1 Roger Federer - in succession.

He is undefeated in Masters 1000 action this season, winning titles at the first four he’s contested. His only loss this season (49-1) came against Federer in the Roland Garros semi-finals.

He reflected on his new status as the ATP’s top player, “Being No. 1 is a big responsibility, not just on the court but off the court as well. Just trying to handle it in the best possible way, but on the other side trying to keep my life very simple, the way it was before. 

“I haven't changed my approach to my profession, to the sport, to my practices, to my matches. This is the way it is supposed to stay.  Luckily I have a team of people that is keeping me on the ground and we are really working hard. I am motivated to make more success and to win more tournaments regardless of my ranking.”

Djokovic will play Marin Cilic in the third round after the Croatian ousted 2009 US Open champion and No. 16 seed Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-4 by taking advantage of his two break point opportunities. Cilic won 93 per cent of his first serve points during the one-hour, 23-minute match to narrowly defeat del Potro for the second time in five career meetings.

Frenchman Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet closed out straight-sets wins in their second-round matches Wednesday.

Fifth seed Monfils, a runner-up effort at last week’s ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Washington, defeated American qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 7-6(5). Tenth seed Richard Gasquet, who recorded his 250th tour-level victory on Tuesday, dismissed Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-1, 6-4.

“I served well. I was able to run well. I played better than yesterday. I won playing well,” assessed Gasquet. “I was able to go for my shots, to move forward, and to hold my serve, which was not always easy.”

Gasquet next plays eighth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, a 6-2, 7-6(5) winner over Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky. Almagro defeated Gasquet in their previous two meetings on clay last season.

Seventh seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic also reached the third round as he knocked out recent Umag champion Alexandr Dolgopolov 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 42 minutes.

He will play Ivo Karlovic for a place in the quarter-finals, after the Croatian battled past German qualifier Philipp Petzschner 6-7(0), 7-6(2), 7-6(6) in two hours and 54 minutes. Karlovic fired 17 aces and lost serve just once.

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