Dubai:Novak Djokovic admitted to feeling fortunate to get past Serbian countryman Viktor Troicki 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the opening match of his Dubai Championships title defense on Wednesday.
Djokovic, following a first-round bye, felt the heat from Troicki and the 34-degree (93 F) temperature until midway through the second set when the growing shade across the court helped to slow down the balls to Djokovic's liking.
Up a set and 3-3 in the second, Troicki missed game point and Djokovic took over, winning in 2 hours, 6 minutes.
"I wasn't happy with the performance overall. But I won, that's what matters," he said.
"He was a better player for a set and a half. I think this is one of the rare tournaments that you really feel (a) big, big difference between the day match and night match. The balls go really much faster, and as soon as the shade came on the court, I felt more control over my game."
Fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko retired after losing the first set 6-3 to Michael Berrer of Germany because of the left wrist he injured at Rotterdam two weekends ago.
Marin Cilic came back from 6-3 down in the tiebreaker to beat Austrian qualifier Stefan Koubek 6-2, 7-6 (6) and improve his ATP Tour-best record to 17-1 this season.
Sixth-seeded Cilic and Koubek broke each other three times in the second set and Koubek, who'd won their only previous match four years ago, led 5-1 in the tiebreak.
"It was nice not to play (a) third set," Cilic said.
He will meet another Austrian in the quarterfinals after Jurgen Melzer beat Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 7-5.
Marcos Baghdatis defeated Indian qualifier Somndev Devvarman 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.