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Djokovic Tested; Berdych Dismisses Anderson

Madrid, Spain

Berdych© AFP/Getty ImagesTomas Berdych dismissed Kevin Anderson in his opening match.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was given a stern test as he opened his title defence at the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday evening. The Serbian was stretched to three sets before overcoming Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

The 24-year-old Djokovic had lost his only previous clay-court meeting with Gimeno-Traver six years ago and was broken twice by the No. 137-ranked Spaniard as he struggled to victory in one hour and 46 minutes.

"Taking into consideration that this was my first official match on the blue clay and that my opponent today already had three matches behind him, maybe that was a little disadvantage on my side," said Djokovic. "To try to find a good balance here is very difficult, so whoever anticipates well here will play well."

The Belgrade native has a 15-4 mark at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament, where he dethroned Rafael Nadal in last year’s final. He is bidding to win his third tour-level title of the season, following victories at the Australian Open (d. Nadal) and the Sony Open Tennis (d. Murray). In his first clay-court outing of the season last month, he was beaten in the final in Monte-Carlo by Rafael Nadal.

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Sixth seed Tomas Berdych secured his place in the third round, defeating South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. The Czech player fired 11 aces and broke serve once in each set for victory in 80 minutes.

The 26-year-old Berdych is playing his first event since reaching the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Djokovic) last month. He improved to a 23-6 match record on the season, highlighted by winning his seventh ATP World Tour title in Montpellier (d. Monfils).

In remaining first-round action, 14th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet had multiple match point opportunities before overcoming Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) in two hours and 43 minutes. One year ago in Madrid, Bellucci had beaten Andy Murray and Berdych before stretching Djokovic to three sets in the semi-finals.

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