Australian Open: Novak Djokovic drops a set but qualifies for the second round


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            <p>MELBOURNE, Australia - World champion and no.2 Novak Djokovic sold a set on Monday to Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff (37th), but ultimately beat him 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6 -2.6-1 in 2:16 and qualified for the second round of the Australian Open.

For the first time in 14 years at Melbourne Park, Djokovic conceded a set in a first round clash. However, it didn’t bother him too much and he even got positive.

“In fact, I like tough first round games, especially in Grand Slam tournaments,” said Djokovic after his win under the Rod-Laver Arena.

“Because it turns me on. From the start, I have to be alert. My level (of play) must be very high. And I think it was. ”

Djokovic had not conceded a heat in a first game at the Australian Open since a loss suffered at the hands of Paul Goldstein in 2006. Since then, the Serbian tennis player had won 13 games in a row in the initial round without losing a set. If we add the first two wins against Struff on Monday, the streak amounted to 41 sets won in a row.

Struff found a way to make three service breaks in this one third set.

“He turned the wind. He didn’t miss much, said Djokovic, second seeded in the men’s singles. Pay tribute to him for fighting. He is a very powerful player. ”

Simpler for Federer

Roger Federer, 3rd in the world, passed the rush in the 2nd round by beating the American Steve Johnson (75th) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in 1 h 21 and “with some margin”.

“I felt I had room. I felt like I was in control of the game, whatever I did. It may not be like this in the next round, so I have to be careful. Keep the mentality lap by lap, point after point, “commented the Swiss who won six times in Melbourne.

“The first three laps will be the key to getting used to the pressure, to manage to avoid breakage balls at 30-30, to remain calm even if I have a set or a break in delay …”, he said. he explained by recalling that unlike “95% of the players on the board”, he had not played a single competitive match before this first round.

In the second round, he will face Frenchman Quentin Halys (153rd), from qualifications, or Serbian Filip Krajinovic (41st).

The rain briefly interrupted his meeting with Johnson, the time to close the roof of the main enclosure of Melbourne Park.

Even easier for Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6th in the world and semi-finalist last year, made a spectacular entry by dominating in the first round the Italian Salvatore Caruso (95th) 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.

“I did everything right. I was in my comfort zone especially after the double break in the first set, I was executing my plan to perfection ”, commented the Greek who will face in the 2nd round the German Philipp Kohlschreiber (79th).

“There is always a bit of nervousness at the start of a Grand Slam tournament. You never know what to expect, what form our opponents are in, “said the 21-year-old, who said he was” reassured “by this first game during which he was satisfied to have” maintained a good level of concentration ”.

“My game was there, I hope that I will still raise my level and play better” the next rounds, he added, admitting to hoping to go further than last year.

“It is always what we hope for,” he said, he who is one of the few young players, with Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem in particular, who could succeed Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer in the charts. a Grand Slam tournament.

The “Big Three” shared the last 12 Majors played since the 2017 Australian Open.

And compared to his half of last year, clearly lost against Nadal (6-2, 6-4, 6-0) who was “much better”, Tsitsipas believes to be stronger this year.

“I have certainly gained experience: last year, I was like a child looking for confidence. Now, I feel much more mature, I have this confidence in myself, I don’t really doubt myself, “said the winner of the End of Year Masters in November in London, his greatest success to date.

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