DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Novak Djokovic opened the defence of his Dubai Championships title with a straight sets victory over Denis Istomin, while second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro had to retire from his first-round match on Tuesday. Top-seeded Djokovic, who is making only his second appearance this year after reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over 54th-ranked Istomin of Uzbekistan. "It wasnt as easy as the scoreline indicates," said Djokovic, who has won in Dubai on four occasions. "I needed to work for my games. "Having not played for more than four, five weeks, an official match, obviously it takes its toll on the court." Djokovic saved all four break points he faced on serve and broke Istomin three times -- in the third and ninth games of the first set and in the second game of the second set. Del Potro was not so fortunate, being forced to retire against Somdev Devvarman of India after losing the first-set tiebreaker 7-6 (3). Since winning the Sydney title last month, Del Potro has been struggling with a left wrist injury that has conjured up memories of similar pain he experienced in his right wrist four years ago. In 2010, the year after he won the U.S. Open, he played only three tournaments before and after surgery on his right wrist. Del Potro was fighting back tears in Dubai when he came to talk to the media after his retirement. "I dont feel really well," he said. "My wrist is hurting a lot and everybody knows what happened to me four years ago with my other wrist. "It was really tough to play today. I tried everything. I cannot be the player I would like to be." Having felt the pain in his left wrist during the Australian Open, Del Potro went at the end of January to consult with Dr. Richard Berger, who performed his right wrist surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The doctor recommended a course of physical therapy. Asked if he would have kept playing if he won the first set, Del Potro said: "I dont think so, no. It was hurting too much." Devvarman, a wild card who won a challenger in New Delhi last week, hit a service winner on his third set point in the tiebreaker. That proved to be the final point of the match. "Its unfortunate, especially for a guy like him," Devvarman said. "I realized he wasnt comfortable hitting backhands and I tried to make him hit as many as I could, and he wasnt really hitting over it so I knew he wasnt happy." Third-seeded Tomas Berdych extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Romanian qualifier Marius Copil. Berdych, who reached the final in Dubai last year, won the Rotterdam title two weeks ago. Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France secured a 6-2, 6-4 win over Victor Hanescu of Romania. Discount Air Jordan 13
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.C. -- Cam Newton wasnt flawless on Sunday. NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have been playing better recently, yet have only a couple of hard-fought points to show for their work. The effort paid off once they got back home. Mattias Ekholms first NHL goal proved to be the game winner as the Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first victory in four games. David Legwand had a goal and an assist, and Shea Weber added two assists for the Predators, who have earned points in five of six games. "It was good the guys got rewarded," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We had a good game plan going in. We stayed with it and converted on a couple chances. Five-on-five I think we outscored them 3-1." Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau scored for San Jose, which has lost two of three. Nashville returned home from a trip in which the Predators lost all three games despite going to overtime twice. The Predators took control against the Sharks, scoring three goals in the second period. Nashville is undefeated in regulation this season when scoring at least three times. "Everything is so crucial right now," Nashville defenceman Kevin Klein said. "In our three prior games, we played really good games, but we lost two in overtime and one really close one. Its one of those things where all of the points help right now. Weve been playing a really good solid team game for the most part." The banged-up Sharks came into Nashville to wrap up their three-game trip, following a shootout win in Chicago on Sunday. The excitement of that win was tempered because forward Logan Couture is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday for what is believed to be a hand injury. Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he didnt think his club was good enough in its first game without Couture, and added that the leadership group has to step up, starting with the coaches and followed by the captain and assistants. "They have to be elite, and we werent at that level tonight," McLellan said. The Predators took a 1-0 lead when Legwand scored his seventh of the seasonn with a wrist shot from the right circle at 3:35.dddddddddddd Ekholm was called for his second delay of game penalty in two games when he put the puck over the glass. The Sharks took advantage to tie it when Pavelski tipped in a shot from Dan Boyle at 6:49. Ekholm made up for his penalty just 27 seconds later when he whirled and flipped the puck past goalie Antti Niemi to put Nashville back ahead 2-1. "Its really nice to see him get his first goal and respond the way he did," Trotz said. McLellan called Nashvilles next goal a blown call by officials. Roman Josi, named to Switzerlands Olympic team on Monday, scored with a wrist shot off an assist from Weber at 11:30. The puck found the net just after Predators forward Colin Wilson went down in the crease beside Niemi, blocking the goalie. But the goal stood for a 3-1 lead. "I understand mistakes because I make a lot of them behind the bench, but when you get an explanation from a group of people and it didnt happen, its disappointing," McLellan said. "There is also protocol to follow in our league which is that you get together and you discuss it, and that didnt happen, either." That goal wound up as the winner. San Jose outshot Nashville 11-5 in the third and got within 3-2 when Marleau tipped in a shot from in front past Marek Mazanec at 18:38. The Sharks then took their timeout with 44.5 seconds remaining but couldnt force overtime. "You have to live with it," Pavelski said. "At the end of the day, that cant bury us, but it did tonight." NOTES: Nashville is 17-0-3 when scoring at least three goals. ... The Predators are 16-1-4 in games in which they score first. ... Nashville F Patric Hornqvist left in the third period with a lower body injury. He is day to day. ... The Sharks scratched F Tyler Kennedy (flu). ... Pavelski has scored in nine of 14 games and has 14 points in that stretch. ... The Predators have gotten points in 11 of their last 13 games against San Jose. ... Josi has nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) in his last 15 games. ' ' '