INDIANAPOLIS (AP) --
|© Phil Cole/Getty Images|
Jonas Bjorkman, once No. 4 on the ATP tour, is out of the Top 100 this year and has abandoned doubles play to improve his singles ranking.
The 33-year-old Swede, who won the RCA Championships in 1997, took a small step in that direction on Tuesday, defeating Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 6-1 to advance to the second round of this year's event.
"To win was the main goal today,'' said Bjorkman, who broke Dlouhy's serve five times and needed just 1 hour, 11 minutes to beat his 22-year-old opponent.
The victory moved Bjorkman, currently No. 103 after finishing in the Top 75 the last 11 years, to 9-13 in singles matches this year.
"If I was going to play bad or good, it didn't really matter as long as I came out to win the match,'' he said.
Bjorkman said dropping out of the Top 100 for the first time since 1993 "definitely gave me a lot of motivation ... This is probably the first time in my career that I've gone through a bad couple of months.''
He said an injury sustained during the Athens Olympics started his slide down the rankings.
"That was my first injury and I lost a lot of points,'' he said. "I've been working really hard physically to get back the strength.''
In other matches Tuesday, Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador beat American qualifier Mashiska Washington 7-6 (3), 6-3, and George Bastl of Switzerland defeated American Jeff Morrison 6-4, 6-4.