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Djokovic, Tsonga Tested In Openers

Beijing, China

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is a two-time former champion in Beijing.

In his first match since finishing runner-up at the US Open, World No. 2 Novak Djokovic survived a scare against German qualifier Michael Berrer, rallying for a 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-2 win in the first round of the China Open on Tuesday.

The Serb improved his perfect record in Beijing to 10-0, having won the title on his two previous visits in 2009 (d. Cilic) and 2010 (d. Ferrer). "In the first set I felt that I could return a lot of serves, which I did, and played a really good set," said Djokovic.

"Then I had a couple of break points in the first game of the second. He stayed with some big serves. That's when I think he changed his tactics and his service games. He started mixing it up more, and I had tough time reading it. I made little adjustment on the return, came closer to the line, and it paid off."

The 25-year-old Djokovic, who has already secured his place at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, improved to a 61-11 match record in 2012. He won the Australian Open in January (d. Nadal) and also triumphed at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Miami (d. Murray) and Toronto (d. Gasquet).

World No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also passed a testing first-round clash, edging Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) in just under two hours. Fresh from winning his second ATP World Tour title of the season at the Moselle Open in Metz (d. Seppi), Tsonga is bidding to further press his claim in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London with a strong showing this week. The 27 year old, who was runner-up at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last year (l. to Federer), is currently just within the qualifying positions for the season finale at No. 8.

Tsonga"It was not easy, because I played a good player in the first round; it was not easy to get used to the conditions," said Tsonga. "Point after point I played better and better during the match. It's some points for me to maybe have a chance to play the last eight at the end of the year. So for me it's really important to win and continue to win."

Tsonga, who has a 46-17 match record on the season, was a semi-finalist at this ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournament last year. He goes onto face Nikolay Davydenko, who won an all-Russian contest with qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr., 7-5, 6-1 in one hour and 41 minutes.

Another Russian, Mikhail Youzhny, who is currently No. 28 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, knocked out No. 21-ranked Tommy Haas, the No. 7 seed from Germany, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 24 minutes. He goes onto face Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the second round.

Fifth seed Richard Gasquet opened his campaign with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden. The Frenchman, who is coming off victory at the Thailand Open in Bangkok (d. Simon), improved to a 38-18 match record on the season as he broke serve four times and won 73 per cent of points on serve.

Yen-Hsun Lu advanced at the expense of Spaniard David Ferrer. Lu was leading 5-4 in the first set when the second seed was forced to retire with a stomach virus. Lu goes onto face Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who held off America’s Ryan Harrison for a 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2 victory in two hours and 10 minutes.

Austrian Jurgen Melzer struck 12 aces past Pablo Andujar of Spain for a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(3) win in two hours and 26 minutes to set up a clash against sixth-seeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. Italian Andreas Seppi led Julien Benneteau, last week’s Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur finalist, 6-1, 2-0 after 33 minutes of play, when Benneteau retired with a right arm injury.

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