LONDON: Top seed Novak Djokovic passed his first grass court test of the season on Wednesday, defeating Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals at Eastbourne.
The Serb is playing a pre-Wimbledon event for the first time since 2010 and will next face the winner from a pair of Americans, either Donald Young or Jared Donaldson.
The three-times Wimbledon champion got onto court as first match after rain washed out Tuesday play - save one game in the Djokovic match - leaving organisers with a backlog to get through.
The former World No 1 claimed his fifth victory in as many attempts against Pospisil, who is now 4-22 lifetime against top 10 opponents.
“That was the first official grass court match for me this year,” Djokovic said. “I’m glad that I came here to Eastbourne. I have had a great couple of days of training with good players, different styles of game.
“Yesterday it obviously wasn't really enjoyable to see the rain falling all day.
“But today we almost played a full match, so I’m glad for that. I felt good on the court, considering it’s the first match.
“I played against an opponent that has a really good game for grass. Serves well, comes to the net, has a good variety.
“It was a really, really solid win. I’m happy with it.”
Djokovic, who will be advised by Andre Agassi at Wimbledon, is the second-highest-ranked men's player to ever compete at the Aegon International behind then-No 2 Marcelo Rios in 1998.
In the men’s first round, Russian Daniil Medvedev knocked out fifth seed Sam Querrey, beating the American 6-3 7-5. German Mischa Zverev, seeed sixth, beat Ryan Harrison of the US 6-4 7-6 (11/9).
On the women’s side, Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep rallied to beat China’s Duan Ying-Ying 3-6 6-3 6-2 while Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova - a 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist - defeated Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-0 6-4.