PARIS — Novak Djokovic began his bid for a record-tying seventh Paris Masters title in style on Saturday, defeating Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 in the first round.
The top-ranked Serb will play Colombia’s Juan Martin del Potro, who overcame a stomach problem to beat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (5), 6-4.
After a poor start, Djokovic showed his class on serve to move past Austrian Ruud, ranked 104th, and into the second round.
Earlier, top-seeded Rafael Nadal overcame a poor start to beat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
Nadal battled to a 3-0 lead before Zverev won four games in a row to force the first-set tiebreaker. Nadal’s rivals rallied to 4-4 before Nadal fought back to make it 4-all.
After Zverev broke in the ninth game, the top-ranked Spaniard had a chance to break back in the 11th before forcing a third set, which he won in the tiebreaker.
After Nadal left the court briefly to receive treatment on his knee, he said he was pleased with his performance after getting an extra day to rest following his title defense at the Shanghai Masters last week.
“I had a lot of time to recover,” Nadal said. “But the fact that I didn’t start the season with a long hardcourt season, I haven’t had many matches of this kind, I played eight finals and lost six. But I played a lot of important finals. And I played a lot of important matches on grass as well.”
Zverev, ranked 11th, was playing in his second Masters 1000 final, having lost to Nadal at the Italian Open.
Zverev said it was his hardest loss so far this season after losing to Nadal on clay in the Italian Open final in May.
“He just comes up with his best tennis when he wants to,” Zverev said. “It’s great to watch that. I like watching him play a lot.”