Australian Open defending champion Novak Djokovic, advanced to the third stage in Melbourne with relative ease on Wednesday evening, with a straight sets victory over Leonardo Mayer. The win sets up an encounter with world No. 49 Denis Istomin, whom Djokovic has met on three previous occasions, including the 2010 Australian Open. The head-to-head series stands at 3-0 for the Serb.
The opening set lasted a mere 22 minutes, where Mayer only managed a total of eight points throughout the set. The second set would be slightly more competitive, as Mayer would pick up the pace but it was far from enough to subdue the four-time Australian Open champion, as Djokovic took a necessary break of serve to advance to the third and final set.
The 26-year-old converted a total of 5 of his 6 break point chances to cruise into the third round with a 6-0, 6-5, 6-4 victory over Mayer. The win extends Djokovic’s winning streak to 23 consecutive matches, as the Serb has not lost a match since the US Open final.
“You don’t want to spend too much time in the heat,” he said. “You want to try to win as quick as possible. He started to play better as the match progressed, in the second part, especially in the third set. But I felt like I was serving well and I was in control. When I needed to use my opportunities when they were presented, I did so. It was a better performance than the first round.”
Djokovic will next face Uzbekistani Denis Istomin, who won his second round match over 30th-seed Dmitry Tursunov with a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 scoreline. It was a strong performance from Istomin, but considering he only managed to win four games in his last meeting with Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena, his second round upset victory will likely be his last in Melbourne this season. He also managed an impressive win over former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, to knock him out of the tournament in the opening round for the first time in his career.
The former world No. 1 holds a undefeated 3-0 winning streak against Istomin heading into their third round encounter tomorrow evening. While their first two meetings ended in straight sets, their last encounter in the Rogers Cup last year, went to a deciding set, when Istomin snatched the opener 6-2. The Uzbekistanian is certainly a tougher challenge than Djokovic’s previous two opponents but will likely not even manage a single set against the defending champion on Rod Laver Arena. The Serb has been in remarkable form and that will likely continue as he works his way through the draw.
Prediction: Djokovic in Straight Sets