Andry Rublev shrugged off a slow start to his Dubai title defence, with the second seed defeating Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 6-2 on Monday.

Rublev spoiled the 31st birthday of the 70th-ranked Serb, coming from a break and 5-2 down in the nearly hour-long opening set against the 2018 tournament semi-finalist.

After winning the last five games of the opening set, the seed got away to a break in the third game of the second and took a 3-1 lead.

A double break for 4-1 sealed the outcome, with Rublev running out victory in 90 minutes on his first match point.

The winner finished with eight aces, breaking Krajinovic four times.

“Crazy things were going through my head in the first set,” Rublev said. “I always have battles with Filip, I had no chance last time we played.

“I was thinking before the match it would be tough. When he started so well I didn’t know what to do.

“But I calmed myself and raised my level, playing much better. I finished the match in a good way.

“I have good memories from this tourna, I’m happy to be in the second round.”

Rublev has stalled twice at the quarter-final stage so far this season, in addition to losing in the Rotterdam first round this month. 

The ATP No. 6 is trying to become the first back-to-back Dubai champion since Roger Federer in 2014-2015.