After missing out on last year’s tournament due to his vaccination status, Novak Djokovic returned to the Australian Open hard courts and won his opening round match in convincing fashion.
Playing at the Rod Laver Arena, the Serbian beat Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 to advance to the second round.
Djokovic’s first action on the court was a 125 mph-serve that set the tone for his dominant match. He proceeded to go on a 12-point run, took control of the match and never let go.
Despite the match starting at 10:30 p.m. and ending after midnight Australian Time, a sizable crowd stayed for the contest and greeted Djokovic with thunderous applause when he stepped on the court.
"Unbelievable atmosphere. Thank you so much for staying this late, everybody. Also, thank you for giving me such a welcoming and a reception I can only dream of,'' Djokovic said to the crowd in an on-court interview. "I really feel very happy that I'm back in Australia and I'm back here on the court where I had the biggest success in my career.''
Djokovic will be chasing history at this tournament. Should he win, he will have earned his 22nd Grand Slam title and tie contemporary Rafael Nadal for the most such titles by a man in the sports history.
If he keeps playing like he did in the first match, this is something he very well could accomplish.
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