Defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Novak Djokovic faced off with Marcos Baghdatis in his first match in Miami and came away with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
The match proved to be a good first round test for Djokovic as Baghdatis held up through two competitive sets withholding the barrage of heavy ground strokes by the world number one. At one point in the second, Djokovic need 16 minutes just to win a single game point.
With the opening round victory, Djokovic erased the memories from 2008 when he lost in the first round while attempting to defend his Sony Ericsson Open title from 2007.
Djokovic will face fellow Serbian Viktor Troicki in the next round.
After the match Djokovic met with the media to breakdown his match. Here is what he had to say :
Q. I think by your reaction at the end there, that was quite a satisfying and hard bit of work out there. That was some match, wasn’t it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was. You know, I knew that it’s gonna be tough one with Marcos. He’s a quality player on any surface. So until the end, I knew I have to play each point in order to prevail this match. That game on 4‑3 went what, 10, 15 minutes and was, I think, a crucial one.
Q. 16 minutes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: 16 minutes, yeah. Yeah, it’s good, you know. It’s the first match here in Miami. I had a tough loss in Indian Wells. Obviously I was working very hard these days to get ready for this tournament, so every win means to me a lot. So I’m really looking forward to the next match.
Q. How tough was the loss in Indian Wells for yourself?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it was tough, you know, because I thought I played a very good match. I mean, I had my chances. Isner is well‑known for his incredible serve, and he’s very efficient if he feels good rhythm with the serve. He served I think around 75% average first serves in, and it was very difficult to return that. But, look, I had to take the best out of it, you know. He was the better player in the more important moments. Of course it’s a tough loss because it’s a big tournament, you know. It’s semifinals, and it was a great match to be a part of. But, again, now my focus is here.
Q. Some players like to really be able to play into a tournament, get a couple of wins under their belt. But coming off of a loss, do you helps to play someone as good as Baghdatis and get that win against a quality player?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. I mean, he definitely deserves to be one of the seeded players, you know. Obviously he struggled a little bit with injuries that took him away from the tour. But he’s a quality player, there is no doubt. He’s very solid from both sides, from the baseline; he has a really good first serve; he’s aggressive player; he has a very flat shot. So as I said, you know, I thought I played really well. Towards the end I made a little more unforced errors, but generally it was a good performance for first match.
Q. Are you getting a sense now for what it’s like to keep having to defend a tournament? Is it every bit as tough as you probably assumed it might be, to keep having to come back to every place you play and start all over again and try and keep it…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, that’s something that is right there. It’s waiting for me, and it’s expected. But I really am trying to have my mind on a different frequency, you know, have my positive attitude. I’m here to fight for title as all the other players and not to defend it, because I think that’s ‑‑ you know, it sounds a little bit stagnating, right? You’re waiting for something to come to you instead of going for it. So that kind of mindset helped me to be where I am and helped me to handle the pressure and play well in the big events, so I will stay with this mindset.
Q. At this stage of the season can you compare with last season? More than perfect? Almost perfect?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s really tough to compare, because I believe every year is different, every season is different. I’m a year‑older player, you know, a different player, different situations. Tennis is evolving. It’s changing all the time and there are more competition on the tour, better players, new faces coming up and new young players playing really well. You know, now John Isner made a breakthrough to the top 10. We all knew he was a quality player even before, but now, you know, he had to find a little tuning in a couple of elements in his game and he had to, you know, have more self‑belief. Here he is, you know, top 10. You have to constantly motivate yourself and work hard each day and wake up and, you know, share the love for the sport, you know, with everybody, with your fans, with your team. This is something that is truly inside of me, and that’s something that keeps me going all the time. I’m very grateful and blessed to be part of the game that I really enjoy.
Q. Back in Indian Wells after the semifinal you mentioned you were thinking of taking a break before this tournament. Whatever you did obviously seems to be working. How did you prepare for this tournament?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, after I lost, the next day I came to Miami. Obviously a time difference. I wanted to get used to it. It’s different conditions here. In the desert it’s very dry; here it’s quite humid, and during the day it can get quite hot. So there is a significant difference in the performances during the day matches and night matches in these conditions, because in the night matches it’s much slower than the days. So I don’t know. Probably my next match will be a day match and I will have to get used to that as well. But I have been practicing a lot, you know, being very dedicated. You know, as I said before, every tournament is a new tournament for me, so I accept it as a big challenge.
Q. Are you happy with the number of unforced errors tonight or the balance of unforced errors winners? Are you happy tonight with the number of unforced errors? Because at the end it was like 24.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I mean, I needed to take my chances, you know. When I’m in the rally I needed to be more aggressive. It paid off. Obviously there are games when you make some unforced errors, but generally I think I played tactically well and moved him around the court pretty much and served very efficient. But towards the end, last couple of games, I did make quite a few unforced errors from the forehand side. But as I said, you know, it’s normal to have some ups and downs during the match. But it was a good performance.
Q. You’ve got your good friend Viktor Troicki up next. Obviously it’s not someone you want to face early in the tournament, but you guys have had your fair share of battles on the court. What do you think about that matchup?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t know if we’re going to play golf tomorrow, but if we do, I think that’s gonna be a hard matchup before the tennis one. We’re always very competitive on the golf course. Just kidding. He’s a good friend of mine. He’s a powerful server, plays equally well on all surfaces. You know, he was almost a top 10 player. During the Roland Garros last year he had some great run. So, you know, I know him so well, and he’s one of my best friends, really. We grew up together. We won juniors European Championship, team championship together. Played many times doubles and we played in Davis Cup and we shared a lot of successes, you know, in our Davis Cup team together. So it’s never easy, obviously, to play with somebody that you know well. But on the other hand, you know, maybe you can use that knowledge about your opponent and try to win.