Malisse gives Djokovic stern Basel test
World number one Novak Djokovic narrowly beat Xavier Marlisse at the Swiss Indoors in Basel.
Djokovic was forced to battle before claiming a narrow 6-2 4-6 7-5 win over the veteran Belgian in a match lasting two hours and 12 minutes, and featuring six breaks of serve.
"I hoped that we would not get to the tie-break," Djokovic, who had lost his only previous meeting with Malisse, told the ATP World Tour's official website.
"It's really unpredictable in the third set tie-break who's going to win. He made a couple of mistakes. I made some returns in.
"Overall, it wasn't a great match for me. I played many, many better matches this year than this one, but under the circumstances, for me the most important thing now is that I feel good on the court physically."
Home favourite and world number 19 Stanislas Wawrinka joined Djokovic in the second round with a relatively routine 6-4 6-4 win over Croatia's Ivan Dodig in just under one and a half hours.
But fourth seed Tomas Berdych became the biggest casualty of the tournament so far as he blew a one-set lead and crashed 3-6 6-3 6-2 to the improving Japanese player Kei Nishikori.
Fifth seed Mardy Fish was forced to retire after just one game of his clash with fellow American James Blake due to a hamstring injury. Other winners were Michael Lammer, Andreas Seppi, Jarko Nieminen and Ivan Ljubicic.
Defeats for Berdych and Fish leave Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, playing in Valencia this week, in a good position to overtake them in the race for a place in the season-ending World Tour Finals in London.
Other winners were Michael Lammer, Andreas Seppi, Jarkko Nieminen - Roger Federer's next foe - and Ivan Ljubicic.