Dubai: Nikolay Davydenko, who hopes to return to the top 20 as part of his farewell year, brought comedy as well as an upset to the seedings as he reached the second round of the Dubai Open here on Tuesday.
The former world number three from Russia beat Janko Tipsarevic, the sixth-seeded Serbian, 6-0, 7-5 but it took him half an hour to take the first two games, and fully 50 minutes to win the love set.
It was in many ways a bizarre match, matched to some extent by the amusingly crazy comments which Davydenko afterwards proffered.
"After two games I was thinking 'match just starting - and I'm already tired', he said, creating a haggard expression.
Davydenko also had a comic explanation for the sharp twist in the second set of a match which, having dominated, he suddenly found himself trailing by two breaks of serve before recovering.
"Before the second set he, like, go to toilet and come back and start to play better. I don't know what he did there," he said, causing the press conference to rock with mirth.
"He start to make no mistakes, played three, four, five, six balls and have control already. I just surprised."
Davydenko, currently down at 46 but still capable of significantly higher on the evidence of his enduringly excellent, early-taken ground strokes, was not apparently convinced that he is on his way back to a ranking which his best tennis would seem to justify.
"One day I play good. Next day I coming and I play like 300 year old," he said.
"Sometimes I feel good, and sometimes like I say after one hour I'm so tired and just start to thinking why maybe I'm so old.
"Maybe something I eat today not so good. We are tennis players, a little bit crazy."
Davydenko does though want to see if he can beat another top ten player, as he did David Ferrer, the world number four, en route to the final in Doha last month.
He may get the chance. He next plays Victor Hanescu, the world number 58 from Rumania, who got past Bernard Tomic when the promising Australian retired with a "general illness" after only five games, and if Davydenko survives that he should meet Roger Federer in the last eight.
Later there was almost another upset when Juan Martin del Potro, the fourth-seeded former US Open champion from Argentina, saved three match points to beat Marcos Baghdatis, the former Australian Open finalist from Cyprus, by 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
Baghdatis, ranked 36, got his big chances when Del Potro was serving at 4-5 in the final set, when he went 15-40 and then advantage point down.
On the first two match points Baghdatis was a little passive, allowing Del Potro to work his way out of difficulty, and on the third Del Potro launched a good first serve and a fine follow up forehand.
Both men had patches of fine ground-stroking but were prone to unexpected lapses. Del Potro survived because his most solid play came in the crises.
"Marcos also deserved to win," he said almost diffidently on court afterwards.
"But the luck came for me. Perhaps I played better in the important moments."