Belgrade:World 100-meter record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica returned from an injury on Tuesday with the fastest sprint in the world this year.
Powell led from start to finish to clock 9.97 seconds in his return from a bout with knee tendinitis at the Artur Takac Memorial athletics meet in the Serbian capital.
Churandy Martina, of the Netherlands Antilles, was second in 10.11, and Jamaica's Michael Frater came third in 10.19. Frater, the 2005 world silver medalist, edged out Britain's Mark Lewis-Francis who had the same time for his season's-best mark.
"It's such a relief to know that the injury is over," Powell said after narrowly beating the 9.98-second mark set in California last month by Derrick Adkins of the Bahamas. "I was very tense, but I'm much more relaxed now."
Powell said he will next run a 200-meter race at the Prefontaine Classic meet in Eugene, Oregon, on June 10. But his main goal is the world track and field championships in Osaka, Japan, starting in August.
"The most important (thing) is that I stay injury free," Powell said.
Powell, 24, twice equaled his world mark of 9.77 seconds last year but had early season setbacks and missed a couple of planned competitions. He set the world record in June 2005 in Athens, Greece.
Justin Gatlin of the United States has matched the time but faces a suspension of up to eight years following a positive doping test for testosterone and other steroids at the Kansas Relays last April. His appeal is still pending.
Jamaica's Sherone Simpson, the fastest woman in the world last season, did not start the women's 100 because of muscle pains during warmup.
The race was won by Iveta Lalova of Bulgaria in 11.26 seconds, followed by Mikele Barber, the United States, in 11.27 and Jamaica's Sherika Williams in 11.34.
Kenya's Moses Masai won the 5,000 meters in 13:08.80 - the fastest time of the season. Kenya's Hosea Macharynyang (13:09.83) was second and Mark Kiptoo was third (13:12.60).