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By Erik Gudris | Sunday, March 9, 2014

Novak Djokovic

While not playing at his best, Novak Djokovic earned his 550th career win. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is still searching for answers after losing to a fellow Frenchman.

Photo Credit: AP

Some days you have it. Some days you don't. On those dreaded days when tennis players can't find their best form, they still have to find a way to win. On Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, one did and one, who did not, is leaving earlier than expected.

No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic certainly did not look his very best in his second round encounter versus Romanian veteran Victor Hanescu. With Djokovic looking unsteady early, that allowed Hanescu to hold five break points throughout the first set.

That included two that were also set points when Djokovic served while down 5-6, 15-40. Djokovic managed to save both and eventually push things into a tiebreak. Hanescu couldn't keep up the pressure though as he tried a bad drop shot that barely cleared the net to give Djokovic an early mini-break.

With that, Djokovic then raced away with the first set 7-6(1).

Djokovic took hold of an early break in the second set thanks to an errant forehand from Hanescu. While Djokovic never quite got his game going in full flight, he didn't really need to as he soon came out of the scratchy meeting with a 7-6(1), 6-2 win that was also the 550th of his career.

"It's one of those days where you get to serve well and everything else is just trying to find the way to play the right shots at the right time," Djokovic said later to the Independent. "It's the first match and it takes a little bit of time to get used to the center court."

Another seeded player searching for a way to his best is France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The No. 9 seed found himself in an all-French battle versus Julien Benneteau whose throwback all-court game often makes him a dangerous foe for many.

That proved the case for Tsonga who looked flat and without the usual flair we've come to expect from him. Tsonga could never capitalize when he did manage to break Benneteau in the nearly 90 minute duet. Eventually, Benneteau closed out the 6-4, 6-4 win.

Though now 9-5 this season that includes reaching one final, Tsonga admitted to L'Equipe later he is still trying to find his best.

"Coming here, I expected to play better, even if I'm in a phase where I does not play a lot of games where it's hard. It's a bit complicated at the moment."

Earlier, No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov continued his recent win streak by posting a 6-4, 6-3 win over Robin Haase.

Having won Acapulco last week, Dimitrov now sets up yet another meeting in as many weeks versus Lativa's Ernests Gulbis. With the exits of both Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro from their side of the draw, many think the winner of this one could go all the way to the semis.

Before he could dwell on that, Dimitrov found himself surprised by an unexpected guest to his post-match press conference.


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