Like during his 6-2 6-1 win over Filip Krajinovic in the last 32 at Indian Wells on Monday night when he chose to throw in a little exhibition of how much spin he can deploy with his backhand.
It was another snag in the return for the 30-year-old Djokovic who admitted he was out of sorts while playing in just his second event of 2018.
Roger Federer insists he is taking nothing for granted after moving a step closer to a sixth Indian Wells title in California.
Speaking to the media after the match, Djokovic said, "It felt like my first match on tour.
The 21-year-old Zimbabwe Davis Cup team player, who is the younger brother of professional tennis player Benjamin Lock, later spoke of his delight at rubbing shoulders with the successful trio in an interview with Standardsport.
Djokovic took six months off after Wimbledon a year ago and returned at January's Australian Open, where he lost in the fourth round.
"I think it speaks to my strengths on court, which is just being clutch and playing my best tennis in the big moments", Fritz said, adding, ".it's probably the stat that I'm most proud about in my tennis career".
Djokovic had further surgery on a persistent elbow injury in February. "I mean, I had no expectations", said Djokovic. "He's only going to get better from here".
"When you do come back from injury or when you haven't played in a long time, it just takes extra effort. I think it was a good match".
However, ninth-seeded Lucas Pouille of France and 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina both lost to qualifiers, and 15th-seeded American John Isner fell to France's Gael Monfils 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-5.
ATP Rankings: Who is the men's singles world No 1?
Pablo Carreno Busta, the 11th seed, eventually overcame Daniil Medvedev on his fifth match point to secure a 6-1 7-5 win while world No 49 Borna Coric impressed with a 6-1 6-3 victory over 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Israeli Dudi Sela beat British 21st seed Edmund 6-4 6-4, while Luxemburg's 24th seed Giles Muller was upset by Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3 7-5.