Novak Djokovic drops set on way to third round

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The Independent Online

Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the Australian Open tonight but made hard work of Croatian Ivan Dodig.

The third-seed toiled through the opening two sets as Dodig held his own before finally upping his game to record a 7-5 6-7 (8/10) 6-0 6-2 victory in two hours 21 minutes.

It was a baffling display from Djokovic. Normally such an effervescent character on court, for long periods he looked out of sorts and disinterested, allowing a player 78 places below him in the rankings to dictate the play.

Djokovic was particularly subdued early on before coming to life in the latter stages of the first set.

He earned a set point at 5-4 up but could not convert, dumping a weak backhand into the net.

But he made no mistake in Dodig's next service game, creating two more chances and taking the second with a drive volley behind his opponent.

Dodig continued to trade blows with his more illustrious opponent in the second set but he failed to capitalise on the chances he created, two break points opportunities coming and going as Djokovic hung in there despite playing well below his best.

And, typically, Djokovic struck in the very next game to establish a 5-3 lead.

Dodig was not done, though, and he hit back immediately with his first break of the match and the set eventually went to a tie-break.

Both players had their chances but it was Dodig who found the breakthrough at the third time of asking.

Djokovic responded by breaking at the start of the third set and again to establish a 3-0 lead.

And he continued his barrage as Dodig faltered once more on serve, Djokovic wrapping up the set in just 28 minutes.

Dodig was battling hard but the gulf in class was now apparent as Djokovic ran through the fourth set as well to set up a third-round meeting with countryman Viktor Troicki.