Melbourne [Australia]: Novak Djokovic celebrated his return to Melbourne Park after two years with a dominant 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 win over Roberto Carballes Baena to advance to the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Djokovic did not drop a beat throughout the match and claimed a clinical win despite a spirited effort from the World No. 75 Carballes Baena. The fourth seed sealed the win in two-hour, and two minutes converting five of nine break points to book a second-round meeting with the winner of the matchup between Hugo Dellien and qualifier Enzo Couacaud. The Serbian’s winning run in Australia now stands at 35 games after the victory.
If the 35-year-old wins this week’s tournament, he would tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles. Additionally, if he wins this week’s tournament in Melbourne, Djokovic will reclaim the top spot in the ATP Rankings for the first time since last June.
“I really feel very happy that I’m back in Australia, back here on the court where I had the biggest success in my career. This court is the most special court in my life, and I couldn’t ask for a better start to the tournament. I guess the more you win on a certain court, the more confident and comfortable you feel every next time you step on it. That’s probably one of the reasons. I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of matches on this court, particularly in the night sessions. If I had to choose one court and conditions, it would be night session on Rod Laver Arena, all night long,” said Djokovic, who has now won 22 consecutive matches on Rod Laver Arena since 2019.
Djokovic had to fight through some early trouble on serve at 2-2, 0/40 in the first set after injuring his left hamstring during his title run at the Adelaide International 1 two weeks prior. However, he responded to the pressure with panache, scoring 12 points in a run to seal the opening game.
Although the Spaniard continued to perform capably, Djokovic sealed the solitary break in the second set with some nimble returning, and the Serbian showed no signs of hamstring pain. The 92-time tour-level champion increased the level of his calm movement in the third set, striking with strength and accuracy through the court to seize total control and give his opponent little opportunity to reply.
“I’m very, very pleased with the way I played in the third set. I didn’t give him too much chance to breathe from the back of the court, and I served very well. [The] second set was kind of going up and down, but credit to him for fighting. He’s a great guy, we train a lot [together] in Spain and it was his first match on Rod Laver so he deserves a big round of applause,” said Djokovic as quoted by ATPTour.com.
Djokovic was happy to have entertained his family members who were watching, some of whom hadn’t seen the Serbian play at Melbourne Park since he won his first Grand Slam title there when he was 20 years old.
“My parents and my brother are here after 15 years. They were last here when I won in 2008, my first Slam, so hopefully, they bring me luck once again,” said Djokovic in his on-court interview.