From a set up and in control, Novak looked set for a comfortable Sunday evening at the Australian Open.

However, the Serbian star survived a challenge to overcome the 18-year-old Croat Dino Prizmic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 and reached the second round in Melbourne for the 17th time in 19 appearances.

In the pair’s first ATP H2H meeting, Djokovic started well. He broke twice to race to a one set lead.

The second set was more competitive. The players had exchanged breaks once before the 2023 Roland Garros Junior champion clinched the tie-break to level the contest.

The third set saw five breaks of serve. The Croatian hope broke on two occasions, while the 10-time titlist converted his break point chances three times.

Djokovic was in control at the beginning of the fourth set. He stormed to a 4-0 lead before Prizmic managed to take one break back. Novak sealed the victory four games later, after four hours of play.

“He deserved every applause, every credit that he got tonight,” said Novak after Prizmic left the court to a standing ovation from the Melbourne crowd. “He’s an amazing player, so mature for his age and he handled himself on the court incredibly well. It could easily have been his match as well. He was a break up in the third, he fought even though he was 0-4 and a break point down in the fourth set. He showed great mentality and resilience. He really made me run for my money tonight.”

Match statistics: aces (11-7), double faults (1-7), winners (40-31), unforced errors (49-42), total points won (139-113).

In the second round on Wednesday, Djokovic will play against Alexei Popyrin (AUS).

Photo: AP

Share post