Australian Open 2014: Novak Djokovic eases through first round

Defending champion looked rusty by his high standards

Novak Djokovic began the defence of his Australian Open crown in front of new coach Boris Becker with a 25th straight victory.

Djokovic's first-round clash with Slovakian Lukas Lacko was his first competitive match since hiring Becker as his head coach last month.

There were no alarms for the Serbian, who is bidding to become the second man after Roy Emerson to win four straight titles here, in a 6-3 7-6 (7/2) 6-1 victory.

He was certainly not at his sharpest, though, on a stage he has made his own.

Having broken 96th-ranked Lacko to lead 4-1, Djokovic's normally ultra solid backhand broke down and he handed the advantage back.

However, Lacko could not hold his own serve and it was Djokovic who took the opening set.

The second was a real tussle lasting 57 minutes, and the Rod Laver Arena crowd really appreciated the efforts of Lacko in keeping his illustrious opponent at bay.

There were still too many errors from the second seed - 30 in all - but he stepped it up during the tie-break and then raced through the deciding set.

It was a 22nd straight win in Melbourne for Djokovic, who meets Argentina's Leonardo Mayer in the second round.

 

PA

 

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