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The Australian Open champ was in fine form against Juan Martin Del Potro

Djokovic and Davydenko land wins in Shanghai

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Originally published on 26/02/10 11:20

Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko scrapped to hard-fought wins as the Masters Cup action got off to a pulsating start in Shanghai.

The world No.3 saw off a spirited challenge from Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5 6-3 before Davydenko came from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7(6) 6-4 7-6(0) in the Gold Group’s opening round-robin matches.

Victory over Del Potro was the Serbian’s maiden Masters Cup victory after losing all three group matches in 2007. “Last year I didn’t have a lot of success. I lost every single match I played, but this time is different,” Djokovic said.

Modelling Adidas’ commemorative black and gold kit, the Australian Open champion soon honed in on Del Potro’s big serve, and whipped a forehand on his third break point for a 3-1 lead in the first, consolidated by a fabulous backhand drop that landed just inside the line and spun out at a right angle to make it 4-1.

Six-foot-six Del Potro hit back with a break at 5-3 but slammed his racket to the ground in frustration after dropping his serve and the set in game 12.

The Argentine produced two stunning backhand passes to go a break up in the second, but was broken back immediately as he twice netted with the same shot.

Djokovic turned on the style with two backhands of his own followed by a looped forehand past the advancing Del Potro to break for 5-3, converting the first match point as his opponent netted.

“When you play against Nadal, Federer or Djokovic, you have just one or two chances in the match,” Del Potro said afterwards. “If you’re not focused enough to take it, you lose, and that’s what happened today.”

Next up, Paris Masters champion Tsonga saved some early break points to reach a first-set tie-break – during which at one stage he was forced to hurdle the net – and flashed a 136mph serve before edging it 8-6.

The two swapped breaks early in the second and Australian Open runner-up Tsonga saved three more break points at 2-3. But Davydenko took the one that counted – a break and set point at 5-4, after Hawkeye confirmed he had clipped the baseline.

As Tsonga tired in the third, Davydenko broke immediately and looked on course for a quick finish until the Frenchman produced an audacious drop shot to save match point on his own serve.

Another backhand drop-shot helped him break back for 5-4 and an audacious second-serve ace levelled the match at 5-5 in front of a rapturous Chinese crowd.

Tsonga was in the ascendancy but turned into his own worst enemy in the tie-break, as he double-faulted and committed a series of errors to implode 0-7 and hand the Russian the match.

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The Australian Open champ was in fine form against Juan Martin Del Potro
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