Djokovic survives scare in tough Slam opener

Novak Djokovic (AP)
Novak Djokovic (AP)

Melbourne - Defending champion Novak Djokovic dropped his first set in the opening round of the Australian Open since 2006 on Monday before grinding down Jan-Lennard Struff to keep his quest for a record eighth title on track.

The 16-time Major winner finally got the job done 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena for his 900th career win to make the second round at Melbourne Park for a 14th consecutive year.

"Credit to him for fighting, he's a very powerful player," said Djokovic, who is seeking to become only the third man to win eight or more titles at the same Grand Slam after Rafael Nadal (12 at Roland Garros) and Roger Federer (eight at Wimbledon).

"I started well, there was a close tiebreak and in the second set I played well, but he turned it around.

"Obviously when you are on the court, especially in my position I am expected to win most of my matches.

"There is a lot of pressure and a lot of different emotions involved. I definitely try to remind myself to stay present and really enjoy."

The last time he dropped a set at the first hurdle in Melbourne was 2006 before going on a streak of 41 straight sets during round one matches until Struff crashed the party.

The second seed came into the tournament after leading Serbia to the ATP Cup title in Sydney, winning all six of his singles matches.

But he didn't have it all his own way against the world number 37.

He ground through a series of long rallies before breaking his opponent in the fifth game of the opening set and seemed to be cruising.

But the German saved a set point in the eighth and then broke Djokovic in the ninth to trail 4-5, with the match back on serve and the crowd on their feet. 

The comeback restored gallant Struff's confidence and the set went to a tie-break, where the Serb dug deep when it mattered most to come out on top.

He broke Struff in his opening game of the second set and then put his foot on the gas, with the gulf in class widening as normal order was restored.

But it didn't last long with the plucky German refusing to give up and the Serbian making uncharacteristic errors in a horror third set.

Djokovic was broken to love to go 2-0 down and while he broke back for 2-3, Struff broke twice more with a Djokovic double fault sending the match into a fourth set.

The world number two didn't make any more mistakes, keeping his focus to get over the finish line.

Djokovic had another phenomenal season last year, winning not only in Australia but his fifth Wimbledon title, while collecting five tournament victories to take his career tally to 77. 

Collated results on day two of the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Tuesday:

Men's singles

1st round

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2, 6-3, 6-0

Federico Del Bonis (ARG) bt Joo Sousa (POR) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Peter Gojowczyk (GER) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0

Pablo Carreo-Busta (ESP x27) bt Jozef Kovalk (SVK) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/2)

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/1)

Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3

Mikael Ymer (SWE) bt Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2

Karen Khachanov (RUS x16) bt Mario Vilella (ESP) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Gael Monfils (FRA x10) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2

Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Flix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x20) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4

Taylor Fritz (USA x29) bt Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/8)

Alex Bolt (AUS) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 7-6 (7/1), 1-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4

Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

Pedro Martnez (ESP) bt Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

Jaume Munar (ESP) bt Hugo Gaston (FRA) 7-5, 5-7, 6-0, 6-3

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x28) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1, 0-0 abandon

John Isner (USA x19) bt Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5)

Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) bt Daniel Galn (COL) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4

Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x15) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4

David Goffin (BEL x11) bt Jrmy Chardy (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-5, 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4

Yuichi Sugita (JPN) bt Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) 6-2, 6-0, 6-3

Andrey Rublev (RUS x17) bt Christopher O'Connell (AUS) 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x26) bt Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 7-5, 6-2, 6-1

Egor Gerasimov (BLR) bt Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10/6)

Alexander Zverev (GER x7) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Marco Trungelliti (ARG) 6-1, 6-4, 7-5

Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2

Fabio Fognini (ITA x12) bt Reilly Opelka (USA) 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (10/5)

Jannik Sinner (ITA) bt Max Purcell (AUS) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-4

Tommy Paul (USA) bt Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x31) bt Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-7 (4/7), 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

John Millman (AUS) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-5

Filip Krajinovic (SRB) bt Quentin Halys (FRA) 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 4-6, 7-5

Christian Garn (CHI) bt Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

Milos Raonic (CAN x32) bt Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-2, 6-1, 6-3

Benot Paire (FRA x21) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-0

Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4

Michael Mmoh (USA) bt Pablo Andjar (ESP) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4

Roberto Bautista (ESP x9) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-2, 6-2, 7-5

Diego Schwartzman (ARG x14) bt Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Alejandro Davidovich (ESP) bt Norbert Gombos (SVK) 4-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2

Marc Polmans (AUS) bt Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (8/10), 6-4

Dusan Lajovic (SRB x24) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

Tatsuma Ito (JPN) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 6-4, 6-2, 7-5

Women's singles

1st round

Polona Hercog (SLO) bt Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-3, 6-3

Greet Minnen (BEL) bt Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 7-5

Elena Rybakina (KAZ x29) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-3, 6-2

Alison Riske (USA x18) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3

Madison Keys (USA x10) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3, 6-1

Arantxa Rus (NED) bt Magda Linette (POL) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Nao Hibino (JPN) bt Shuai Peng (CHN) 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3

Maria Sakkari (GRE x22) bt Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-2, 6-2

Ons Jabeur (TUN) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x12) 6-4, 6-2

Caroline Garcia (FRA) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2

Dayana Yastremska (UKR x23) bt Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-1, 6-1

Wang Qiang (CHN x27) bt Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3

Fiona Ferro (FRA) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2, 6-1

Belinda Bencic (SUI x6) bt Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-3, 7-5

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) 6-1, 6-4

Donna Vekic (CRO x19) bt Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-3, 6-4

Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Monica Niculescu (ROU) 5-7, 6-1, 6-0

Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-0, 6-2

Karolina Muchova (CZE x20) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (10/7)

Danielle Collins (USA x26) bt Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-1, 6-3

Harriet Dart (GBR) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10/6)

Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 7-6 (7/5), 6-1

Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Katie Boulter (GBR) 6-4, 7-5

Lauren Davis (USA) bt Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4, 6-2

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Shelby Rogers (USA) 0-6, 6-1, 6-0

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x31) 6-1, 6-1

Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Amanda Anisimova (USA x21) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

Anna Blinkova (RUS) bt Jasmine Paolini (ITA) 7-5, 6-4

Arina Rodionova (AUS) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-0

Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Irina Begu (ROU) 6-1, 6-4

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Marketa Vondrousova (CZE x15) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Antonia Lottner (GER) 6-3, 6-3

Priscilla Hon (AUS) bt Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-3, 6-4

Angelique Kerber (GER x17) bt Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-2, 6-2

Laura Siegemund (GER) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-1, 6-4

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-1, 7-5


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