Given the Australian Open’s usual preference for giving night show court matches to potential interesting matches over Big 4 demolitions, it is definitely surprising to see a match that has the best of both in the middle of the day on Rod Laver Arena. Novak Djokovic will take on Gael Monfils in just his second match back as he continues to find his feet.
Djokovic was barely troubled in his comeback match, needing less than 2 hours to beat Donald Young in straight sets 6-1 6-2 6-4. There were no issues with his newly refined serve as he won 75% of points overall on it, a good combination in addition to his dominance on return. He broke 6 times overall although he may rue his wastefulness in latter matches having had 25 break points overall. Djokovic was happy overall though, with his hard work showing rewards. “I used my experience of being in these particular circumstances so many times in my life that, you know, enabled me to kind of keep my focus and start off well with the right intensity.” he said. “I just tried, you know, to embrace whatever emotions are coming, but at the same time trying to focus myself as much as I can on the present moment. Well, the first two sets went extremely well, considering that I haven’t played for six months. The third was, you know, up and down a little bit, but in general was a great performance.”
A straight sets win over Jaume Munar in round one saw Monfils advance to this stage. You’d think that someone with Monfils’ peak level would be a troublesome matchup for Djokovic on occasions but it hasn’t played out that way with the Frenchman never beating Djokovic in main tour play. Monfils won their first matchup as youngsters ranked outside the top 500 in ITF play but it has been all Djokovic since then, with him winning 14 straight including last year’s Eastbourne final.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets