World number one-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia took part in his first match since winning the 2012 Australian Open in January, with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Germany's Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in first round action at the 2012 Dubai Tennis Championships, upping his undefeated streak to 8-0 to date in 2012. Novak's younger brother, Marko Djokovic, currently ranked 896th in the world, didn't fare as well in his opening match in Dubai as the wild card entry was a 3-6, 2-6 loser to Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
The elder Djokovic serves as a mentor for Marko and said it was hard to watch his brother struggling. The five-time Grand Slam champion acknowledged it must be difficult for Marko and his other tennis-playing brother, 16-year-old Djordje, to deal with comparisons to their elder sibling.
“In the end, he has to face this, I guess, pressure in a way for having Djokovic surname,” Novak said of Marko. “All over the world where he plays tennis, I guess he has to face this pressure that is not necessary for him at this age. It’s his burden, and he’s very committed. He wants to succeed in tennis.”
Novak is in pursuit of his fourth straight Dubai title. He insisted he was not concerned with matching his exploits in 2011—including three Grand Slam titles and a 41-match win streak to open the season.
“The last year was amazing,” he said. “Definitely best year of my career. If you ask me if I can repeat it, I don’t know. It’s going to be very, very hard obviously.”