Djokovic Beats Heat And Chung In Australian Open Opener
Top seed starts strong at Melbourne Park
Novak Djokovic survived a scorching Melbourne summer’s day and a spirited early challenge from Korean teen Hyeon Chung as he began his quest for a sixth Australian Open title on Monday.
The defending champion, who won the first of his 10 majors at Melbourne Park in 2008, broke open the match with a run of six consecutive games from late in the first set before going on to close out the match 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
"Having to play somebody for the first time, especially somebody that is as young as him, he's only 19, it can be tricky," said Djokovic. "Obviously getting out on the court and playing against a player that has nothing to lose. He moves very well, as well. He can play equally well from defence to offence. And he's one of the players that people are talking about as a potential top player in the future."He's got that potential, no question about it. He needs experience, he needs more time."
With temperatures climbing above 34 degrees Celsius on site (and higher on court), Djokovic took comfort in an ice towel on changeovers as he faced heat from the elements and from Chung’s groundstrokes. The 19-year-old South Korean swung freely on both wings, testing the World No. 1 early and later breaking back for 3-4 in the first set. But from there Djokovic won the next six games to break open the match as he surged to a commanding 6-3, 4-0 lead.
"It was pretty warm," said Djokovic. "But, again, it was warm for both of us. For these kind of conditions, you have to prepare yourself, expect the warm days like this and accept them, as well.
"You try to stay composed, not get carried away by the heat, get distracted. Of course, there were some long rallies, long exchanges that got both of us a little bit short on air. But I think physically I was really good on the court. I managed to play the best tennis when I needed to."
In the second round the Serb will play the winner of Frenchman Quentin Halys and Croatian veteran Ivan Dodig.