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Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Djokovic eases through in Dubai

Novak Djokovic
Djokovic is under pressure from Murray for his number three ranking

Top seed Novak Djokovic got off to a winning start at the Dubai Championships with victory over Italian qualifier Flavio Cipolla.

The Serbian, 21, eased through 6-3 6-2 to set up a clash with Jan Hernych, who beat Mikhail Youzhny 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Third seed Gilles Simon battled past Mohammed Al Ghareeb 5-7 6-4 6-4.

Arnaud Clement beat Rainer Schuettler 1-6 6-3 6-3 to set up a clash with Andy Murray, providing the Briton recovers from an ankle injury.

"My ankle's still pretty sore, so I hope it's going to be OK for the rest of the tournament," Murray told BBC Scotland after his win over Sergiy Stakhovsky on Monday.

Murray sanguine over ankle injury

Djokovic was not satisfied with his play despite the scoreline, and said: "I'm happy that I'm through in straight sets but it certainly wasn't the performance I was looking for.

"I didn't expect him to play so many short balls and with the change of pace that's probably what didn't give me a lot of rhythm.

"But it's alright. Hopefully I can improve my game towards the finish of the tournament."

In other matches on Tuesday, France's Richard Gasquet battled past wild card Marat Safin 6-3 5-7 6-3, and compatriot Julien Benneteau beat Juergen Melzer 1-6 6-3 6-3.

Safin plans to retire at the end of the season and suggested he will say farewell in Paris, rather than Moscow as had been expected.

"We'll have to make the last tournament in Paris, where I played the best tennis and where I won the Davis Cup for Russia."

Sixth seed Igor Andreev thrashed Rik De Voest of South Africa 6-4 6-0.

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