Djokovic rolls; Nadal stunned in season-opener in Doha

Doha, Qatar ( – World No. 1 star Novak Djokovic cruised
into the second round, while on-the-mend former top-ranked great and defending
champion Rafael Nadal was sent packing at the season-opening $1.22 million
Qatar Open on Tuesday.

Playing his first ATP tennis since October, the second-seeded Nadal succumbed
to German qualifier and fellow left-hander Michael Berrer, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, in
just under two hours. Berrer dropped his previous two matches against
Nadal, with both losses coming at Masters events.

The 127th-ranked Berrer broke Nadal to go ahead 3-1 in the second set, and
then in the first game of the third.

Berrer had never before beaten a top-five player. The 34-year-old father of
two has already announced he’s retiring at the end of this year.

“It’s really unbelievable,” Berrer said. “It’s my last season so I’m just
going for it. Why not?”

The 28-year-old Nadal missed several months of action last season while
battling wrist and back injuries, as well as an appendectomy.

“These things happen after long time without being on the road, being on
rhythm, being in competition,” Nadal said. “I was playing with more nerves
because after long time (away) I wanted to win.

“When you are back from an injury, that takes time.”

Nadal beat France’s Gael Monfils in last year’s Doha finale and was
the runner-up here in 2010.

Meanwhile, the top-seeded Wimbledon champ Djokovic drilled fellow Serb Dusan
Lajovic 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes on the hardcourts at Khalifa International
Tennis Complex. His second-round opponent on Wednesday will be Ukrainian
Sergiy Stakhovsky.

In other first-round action involving seeds, No. 3 Tomas Berdych topped
Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-4; No. 4 David Ferrer snuck past Dutch
qualifier Thiemo de Bakker 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-3; Jan-Lennard Struff ousted No.
5 fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-1; and Italian Andreas
Seppi upended No. 8 Leonardo Mayer 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4).

Also on Day 2, Stakhovsky whipped wild card Jabor Mohammed Ali Mutawa
of Qatar 6-1, 6-1; Slovenian qualifier Blaz Kavcic beat Argentine Juan Monaco
7-6 (7-3), 6-4; Brazilian Joao Souza overcame Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri
3-6, 6-4, 6-3; and Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili surprised Russian
Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-2.

Doha serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open.