Djokovic ready for first Grand Slam of the year

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic Reuters/Aly Song

Novak Djokovic battled back from 5-1 down against world number 63 Jan-Lennard Struff to claim his first victory of the season at the Qatar Open. Djokovic, who is the defending champion in Doha, hit 17 winners but also 20 unforced errors.


The 12-time Grand Slam winner is looking to reclaim his number one ranking from Andy Murray, who is also in Doha and is the tournament's number one seed.

The world number two lost his opening two service games and struggled with the German's big serves in the early exchanges.

But the Serb rallied in determined fashion to eventually take the first-round match 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

"It wasn't a great start, I was 1-5 down, it didn't look very good," Djokovic said after winning in just under 90 minutes.

Before the tournament, Murray said Djokovic would be his main rival this season, but the Serb said 2017 would be about more than two players.

Nadal, Federer could return

Former world number one players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still strong and may return to the top two.

“We cannot count out in any circumstances because of their history and results and the quality of players that they are," said Djokovic.

Goffin beats Hasse

Meanwhile, the number four seed, Belgium's David Goffin who beat Murray in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week defeated Robin Hasse of the Netherlands, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

Murray starts his attempt to win the Qatar Open, an event he last won in 2009, with a first-round match against France's Jeremy Chardy.

The Scotsman, who was knighted at the end of last year, already saw some action in the doubles on Monday, but he and partner Mariusz Fyrstenberg lost in straight sets to David Marrero and Nenad Zimonjic.

The finals will be on 7 January. Then both players will gear up for the first Grand Slam of the year: the Australian Open, which will be held in Melbourne Park between 19 and 27 January.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning