MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Second seed Novak Djokovic was forced to work hard by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in his first match of the Australian Open on Monday before prevailing 7-6(5) 6-2 2-6 6-1 to stay on course for a record-extending eighth title at Melbourne Park.
Playing against an opponent he defeated both times in straight sets in the past, Djokovic lost his serve four times in the match on Rod Laver Arena, where he beat Rafa Nadal in last year’s final to pick up a seventh Australian Open title.
The 32-year-old, however, managed to play at a different gear in the fourth set and in the end appeared in control of the match against the big-serving German.
“Overall it was a really solid start, especially in the second and the fourth set I played on a higher level. (I) served pretty good, lots of aces, high percentage of first serves in,” Djokovic told reporters.
“I felt kind of in control of the match. Even when I lost the third set I just felt like ‘if I am on the…
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