World No. 2 Novak Djokovic made an impressive yet thoroughly expected start to his 2014 Australian Open campaign, as he defeated Lukas Lacko in his opening round fixture to reach the second stage of the tournament. There he will meet Leonardo Mayer after the Argentinian overcame Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 yesterday.
It was a typical performance from Novak Djokovic in his first professional match of 2014. The Serbian star dominated the affair early on and never let his young competitor across the net get any advantages over him, eventually taking the match 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-1. The first set was considerably shaky though, as the two athletes traded breaks before Djokovic took control to ease out the set 6-3. The second set was the most competitive as Lacko stepped up the pressure to force the Serb into a tiebreak, which he lost 7-2 to the four-time Australian Open champion.
The third set lasted a mere 23 minutes, as the rust appeared to have disappeared, allowing Djokovic to take a 3-0 lead before serving out the match with an ace a few minutes later. Overall, while there may have been a few small bumps along the way, Djokovic still managed an imposing 10 aces, 40 winners and 0 double faults in his opening match in Melbourne – a strong showing by any standards.
The victory extended his winning streak to 22 matches and sets up a night session encounter with World No. 98 Leonardo Mayer.
“I was happy with my concentration,” said Djokovic. “I thought I was prepared well. Physically I feel great. I’m very motivated obviously to play my best. I know that I haven’t played my best, especially in the second set. But, look, also credit to my opponent who was playing really nice tennis from the baseline.
“I won many easy points with the first serves and had a high percentage of the first serves in. That’s something that makes me very encouraged for this tournament and for every next match.”
Monday evening was also the first time we witnessed the new partnership between Djokovic and Germany;s Boris Becker in action, as the six-time Grand Slam champion was on the sidelines, analyzing his client’s game. While one match was not enough to judge the impact he has made on the defending champion, Becker appeared focused and serious throughout the atch, cracking a smile only when Djokovic had secured the match in straight sets.
World No. 98 Leonardo Mayer also arrived in the second stage of the Australian Open on the heels of a straight sets victory. His straight sets victory over Albert Montanes on Monday afternoon sets him up with a massive opportunity to pick up a monumental upset, against a four-time champion in Melbourne.
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour. Mayer has certainly never faced anyone with Djokovic’s calibre, particularly on Rod Laver Arena,which will ultimately add to his pressure. Even if he pressures the Serb throughout the match as did Lacko, he will need a near perfect game to remain competitive with Djokovic throughout the match.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets