Novak Djokovic will be in action in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, as he pursues an unprecedented eighth title at the tournament. The Serbian star had to fight through a tough four-set opener against big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff, eventually prevailing 7-6 6-2 2-6 6-1.
By reaching the second round of the Australian Open for the 14th consecutive year, Djokovic became just the sixth man to record 900 tour-level victories. He joins fellow rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in an exculisve list that also features Guillermo Vilas, Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors.
The defending champion has now extended his unbeaten start to the 2020 season to seven matches including the ATP Cup where he inspired Team Serbia to victory. Given his phenomenal record in Melbourne, it will be increasingly difficult to stop him this fortnight.
Djokovic will next face Japanese veteran Tatsuma Ito, who saw off Indian lucky loser Prajnesh Gunneswaran in straight sets.The World No.146 has never progressed beyond the second round in any of his five appearances at the main draw of the Australian Open, nor at any of the other three majors.
Ito is certainly past his peak years. He was ranked as high as No.60 in October 2012 after making the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup, but he has since dropped down to the Challenger tour in an effort to build up his ranking.
The Japanese made two back-to-back semifinal showings at Challenger level during the closing stages of the 2019 season.
This will be a first career meeting between these two players.
Where to watch
Asia Pacific, Centra Asia and Oceania: Sony Six, ESPN, Fox Sports, FBC TV, NHK.
Middle East & Africa: Bein Sports, SuperSport
North America: ESPN, TSN and Tennis Channel
The match is scheduled on Wednesday, not before 13:30 local time (03:30 am BST)
In the past three occasions on which Djokovic has lost at least one set in the opening round of a major - which goes back to the 2010 US Open - he has gone on to make the final or win the title.
Historically, Djokovic has played his best tennis at Melbourne Park as evidenced with a return of seven titles, and it is unlikely to see Ito record quite possibly the biggest upset in Australian Open history.
Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets
Published 21 Jan 2020, 16:35 IST