Juan Martin del Potro saved three match points Tuesday to rally past Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) at the Dubai Championships, while Nikolay Davydenko upset ninth-ranked Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets.
Del Potro, who reached the quarterfinals in Marseille and won his 14th title the week before in Rotterdam, appeared sluggish early, handing the first set to Baghdatis when he hit one of his three double-faults. But the 2009 U.S. Open champion served better in the second, and broke Baghdatis to go up 3-2. The two traded breaks in the third and Del Potro won it when the Cypriot hit a forehand into the net after a short rally.
"I was fighting every time of the match," Del Potro said. "He's a great player. He fights like me every point, and we made fantastic rallies. The crowd was enjoying the game. I'm so glad to beat him tonight in Dubai."
Del Potro said his left wrist is still bothering him, having missed most of 2010 after needing surgery.
"I'm trying to keep focus on this tournament because it's very important," Del Potro said. "And then to come for Indian Wells and Miami, I need good results here."
In other matches, sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych made easy work of American wild-card entry Rajeev Ram, beating him 6-1, 6-3. Australian Bernard Tomic withdrew from his match against Romanian Victor Hanescu after falling behind 3-2 in the first set.
Davydenko, who reached the Qatar Open final in January, overwhelmed Tipsarevic 6-0, 7-5. The Serb, who injured his heel at the Australian Open, lost the opening match in his third straight tournament.
The big-hitting Tipsarevic had trouble with his serve, committing six double-faults and finishing with a first-serve percentage of 49 percent.
The 46th-ranked Davydenko said it was clear Tipsarevic isn't playing at this best.
"Maybe he doesn't have the confidence after the Australian Open," the Russian said. "After his injury, he tried to come back. (His) game is good, but is not enough now. Maybe he will feel better in America."