Australian Open 2020: First-round test bodes well for defending champ Djokovic

By Sports Desk January 20, 2020

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic savoured his win over Jan-Lennard Struff, highlighting his grand slam success after difficult first-round matches.   

Djokovic - eyeing a record-extending eighth Australian Open title - kicked off his title defence with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-1 victory against tenacious German Struff in Melbourne on Monday.

The 16-time slam champion looked set to close out a straight-sets win after surviving a tense first set, in which he committed 12 unforced errors, before Struff rallied to force a fourth on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic, though, was not to be denied a 900th ATP career victory and the Serb star told reporters: "I actually like tough first rounds in grand slams particularly.

"Historically I had lots of success in grand slams where I had tough opponents in the first round. Because it gets me going. 

"From the beginning I have to be alert, I have to be on a high level. I think I was."

Djokovic, who will face either Japanese wildcard Tatsuma Ito or lucky loser Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the second round, added: "Overall it was a really solid start, especially in the second and the fourth set I played on a higher level. [I] served pretty good, lots of aces, high percentage of first serves in.

"I felt kind of in control of the match. Even when I lost the third set I just felt like 'if I am on the right level, I have the upper hand'. I ended this match in a good fashion, in a right way and this is very positive."

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    Addressing Auger-Aliassime, who held a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head before this clash, Tsitsipas said: "It's great to be fighting on the court against you.

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    These two could contest many more finals in the years ahead.

    Auger-Aliassime said: "We've known each other since juniors. It's getting tougher and tougher to play you - we're equal now - two wins each - so it's a great rivalry and a great fight every time against you, but congrats for this one."

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    Auger-Aliassime will be hoping to go one better than he did in Rotterdam last week, having lost in the final of that event to Gael Monfils.

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