Top seed Novak Djokovic passed an early test to defeat countryman Filip Krajinovic 7-6(6), 6-3 on Tuesday in his first appearance at the Erste Bank Open since his 2007 title run. Djokovic dropped serve twice in the first set and was forced to save set point at 5-6, before coming back to earn his place in the second round. The World No. 1, who struck 39 winners against Krajinovic, has now won 38 of his 40 matches this year.
“I was lucky in the first set… We are good friends, we train a lot [together] and it is never easy to play someone that you are very close to,” said Djokovic in an on-court interview. “He is a very nice guy and I have known him since he was very young. I followed him, I tried to be there as a friend, as a mentor. We go back a long way.
”We practised a few times [together] before coming to Vienna. The draw was tough for us to face each other, but there is always extra pressure and importance to a match when you play someone that you know very well.”
The Serbian is attempting to tie Pete Sampras’ record of six year-end World No. 1 finishes this year.
The 17-time grand slam champion was competing for the first time since his runner-up finish at Roland Garros (lost to Nadal). The 33-year-old will next face Borna Coric for a place in the quarter-finals.
“[In the] first set, I think he was the better player. He was serving for the first set and I was lucky. He missed a smash at 6/6 in the tie-break,” said Djokovic. “A few points here and there can change the momentum of the match. In the second set, I stepped it up, I played better and I am just pleased with the way I finished the match.”