Djokovic strong in Dubai opener

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)

Novak Djokovic shook off the rust to beat Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-4, 6-2 and reach the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships Monday in his first match since winning the Australian Open.

The top-ranked Serb has not played a match in nearly four weeks and it showed. He broke the 72nd-ranked German to go up 1-0 but had to save two break points in the fourth game. Stebe pushed the set to 5-4 and deuce before Djokovic hit his first ace and another good serve which the German returned long.

Djokovic had an easier second set, breaking twice. He won the match with his third ace of the match and another serve that Stebe couldn't return.

Djokovic, going for a fourth consecutive Dubai title, is 8-0 this year.

Mardy Fish eased into the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships, beating Andreas Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-1.

The American has had a mixed year so far, losing in the second round of the Australian Open and beaten by 388th-ranked Albano Olivetti in the Marseille quarterfinals last week. He did, however, help the United States rout Switzerland 5-0 in the Davis Cup.

On Monday, Fish broke Beck twice in the first set to lead 4-0. In the second, he broke three times before closing the match in 57 minutes.

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