Novak Djokovic survived an enormous first-round scare towards teenage qualifier Dino Prizmic on the Australian Open.
Historical past-chasing Djokovic, bidding for a record-breaking twenty fifth Grand Slam, discovered himself a break down within the third set earlier than happening to win 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 in Melbourne.
The world No 1, on the lookout for his eleventh title Down Beneath, needed to battle for simply over 4 hours earlier than profitable via towards the 18-year-old world No 178.
It was the longest opening match of a Grand Slam he has performed because the Serb survived a big check in his quest to overhaul Margaret Courtroom and stand alone on the prime of the game.
“I began off effectively for a 36-year-old,” mentioned Djokovic. “Wow, when you concentrate on it… I’m double his age!
“I struggled in many various moments tonight. He was very bodily. I had good moments. Some moments I might have performed higher. It has been a really brief low season however hopefully I will likely be at my greatest for the subsequent match.”
The indicators didn’t look good for Prizmic when he dropped his opening service recreation after which took a medical time-out within the fifth recreation for remedy to his left groin.
He already had tape on his proper arm and will discover nothing to harm Djokovic within the first set, however issues started to alter early within the second.
Djokovic gained a staggering 17 of his 19 tie-breaks at grand slams in 2023, together with 15 in a row from the second spherical in Melbourne to the Wimbledon ultimate, however right here he performed a really poor one and all of a sudden what had appeared an easy event grew to become something however.
Djokovic, who was dabbing his forehead and puffing his cheeks, was making a number of uncharacteristic errors and Prizmic fought again from 2-0 down within the third set to guide by a break at 3-2.
There was concern on the face Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic, who was among the many spectators watching his countryman Prizmic’s run to the French Open junior title final 12 months.
Djokovic in the end discovered a approach via, however the 36-year-old’s rivals may have been watching carefully.
“He deserved each applause, each credit score that he obtained tonight,” mentioned Djokovic of his opponent. “Wonderful participant, I need to say. Very mature for his age. This was his second. It might simply have been his match, as effectively. He made me actually run for my cash tonight.”
Djokovic vs Prizmic: Story of the Tape
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Berrettini drops out of Grand Slam with out taking part in a single match
Matteo Berrettini pulled out of the match with out taking part in a match as his damage woes continued.
The previous Wimbledon finalist had been as a consequence of face Stefanos Tsitsipas within the first spherical on Rod Laver Enviornment on Monday in one of many plum ties of the primary spherical.
However on Sunday afternoon the match introduced he had withdrawn with a proper foot damage, making it the fourth time within the final eight Grand Slam tournaments the place he has not been capable of play a match.
The favored Italian, a semi-finalist in Melbourne in 2022, has been off the tour since struggling an ankle damage throughout his second-round match towards Arthur Rinderknech on the US Open.
He had beforehand missed the French Open due to an belly damage, whereas in 2022 he additionally sat out Roland Garros following hand surgical procedure after which examined Positive for Covid-19 forward of Wimbledon.
As soon as ranked as excessive as world No 6, the 27-year-old, overwhelmed by Djokovic within the Wimbledon ultimate in 2021, is now down at 125.
He has been changed within the draw by Belgian fortunate loser Zizou Bergs, who will tackle Tsitsipas on Monday.
Fourth seed Jannik Sinner, one of many favourites for the title following his stellar finish to 2023, started his marketing campaign with a straight-sets win over Botic Van De Zandschulp.
Sinner, who beat Djokovic twice in a matter of days on the ATP Finals and Davis Cup in November, was a 6-4 7-5 6-3 winner on Rod Laver Enviornment.
The Italian didn’t play a warm-up match after his late end to final season, and he mentioned: “I really feel like I began off truly rather well for the primary match.
“Then after, I had some moments the place I made a few mistaken selections, however this could occur. Even in the event you made perhaps some matches, this could occur. Perhaps you’re a little bit drained generally.
“It was necessary right now for me as a result of I used to be wanting ahead to stepping on the courtroom.”
American twelfth seed Taylor Fritz survived a first-round check from Argentine Facundo Diaz Acosta to win 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-4 in a 4 hour thriller.
The 26-year-old averted an early exit, having bowed out within the second spherical final 12 months.
Fifth seed Andrey Rublev fought his well beyond Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild 7-5 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6 (7-6) in three hours and 42 minutes.
Former finalist Marin Cilic performed his first Grand Slam match for the reason that US Open in 2022 following knee surgical procedure however was overwhelmed in 4 units by Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan.
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