Novak Djokovic’s opening contest at the Australian Open wasn’t as straightforward as he would have hoped, but the World No. 2 ultimately secured safe passage into the second round on Monday, 7-6 (5) 6-2 2-6 6-1.
Djokovic established a comfortable lead over Jan-Lennard Struff in Rod Laver Arena, clinching the first set in a tiebreak before breaking his German opponent’s serve twice in the second frame to move within a set of an easy victory.
But Struff broke the Serbian three times to claim the third set 6-2, giving Djokovic cause for concern – if only briefly.
Djokovic returned the favour, breaking Struff’s serve on three occasions in the fourth set, and on his second match point the record seven-time Australian Open champion sealed the win after two hours and twenty minutes on court.
The win, which came at 11.30pm in Melbourne, was Djokovic’s 900th on the ATP tour. It saw him progress to the second round of the first major of the year for the 14th consecutive season.
“It’s great to be back in this arena that has a very special place in my heart,” the 16-time Grand Slam champion said.
“This has been by far my most successful court in my career, and I love coming back to Australia – the land of tennis.
“I want to thank everybody for staying almost until midnight and supporting both players.”