France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won through to the second round of the Qatar Open on Tuesday, but only after seeing off a determined fightback from Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.
The world number 12 won 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 to set up a last 16, second round encounter with Germany’s Dustin Brown.
Tsonga, who was playing his first match in Doha since taking the Qatar Open title in 2012, breezed through the opening set in just 23 minutes and looked on course for an easy victory.
But Kuznetsov, ranked 46 in the world, struck back in the second set, breaking Tsonga’s serve in the tenth game to take the match into a deciding set, a seemingly unlikely scenario just 30 minutes earlier.
Tsonga though, who hit 28 winners, rallied in the final set and two breaks of the Russian’s serve meant any chances of an upset were dashed.
Afterwards, the 31-year-old said his aim was to break back into the elite of the men’s game.
“It’s important for me to be in the top ten and be seeded for tournaments,” said Tsonga.
World number one Andy Murray, looking to extend his 24-match winning streak, plays his opening round match against France’s Jeremy Chardy later on Tuesday.