Serb second seed Novak Djokovic advanced in his opening match at the Cincinnati Masters with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win over Italian Andreas Seppi.
But Australian wild card Lleyton Hewitt is out of the tournament after being beaten by Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-2 6-0 in his second round.
Hewitt, who’s fallen to 134th in the world following foot surgery in February, is now set to play at the US Open later this month after receiving a wild card.
Djokovic’s win came much easier than his last meeting with the Italian, an epic which took four-and-a-quarter hours and forced the Serb to come from two sets to love down in their fourth-round encounter at Roland Garros.
Despite victory in the Midwest on a hot summer day, Djokovic considered himself lucky to go through on Wednesday.
He arrived late from his post-London Olympic title in Toronto and did not even have a chance for a hit-up on the showcase court on which he won.
“I was just trying to get used to conditions, trying to keep the ball on the court and hit one more than my opponent,” said the world No.2, a three-time Cincinnati finalist.
Djokovic was the first of the week’s elites to go through with top seed Roger Federer later facing his opener against Alex Bogomolov and Andy Murray, seeded third, playing American Sam Querrey.
Djokovic said the news of the US Open withdrawal of Rafael Nadal must mean that the Spaniard’s knee injury is serious.
“I know how focused he is,” said the Serb, “how committed he is to the court. If he’s not playing one of the biggest events in our sport then his (knee tendinitis) injury must be serious. You know he would have played if he could. I hope he recovers fast.”
Djokovic will next play Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko, who beat German Florian Mayer 6-3 6-3.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro ended the run of German Tommy Haas 7-5 6-2, while 10th seed Mardy Fish beat Carlos Berlocq 6-3 6-1.
On the women’s side, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-4 6-3 and number seven French Open finalist Sara Errani beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 6-4.