Djokovic staves off Prizmic upset in Melbourne opener

Melbourne, Jan 14 (UNI) Novak Djokovic beat Dino Prizmic 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, but not before the teenaged Croatian gave a hard time for the celebrated Serb in the first-round meeting on Da 1 of the Australian Open here on Sunday.

In the longest first-round match of his distinguished career spanning 4 hours and a minute, Djokovic was given a bitter challenge by Prizmic who sealed his maiden main-draw appearance at a major, especially in the second and third sets.

The 18-year-old Prizmic, who is No. 178 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, went neck-and-neck with Djokovic and at one stage lunged ahead 3-2 with a break in the third set. However, the 24-time major winner clinched the next eight games from thereon to snuff out the young Turk’s hopes of causing an upset.

Djokovic displayed his prowess in the later stages of the match to smother an exhausting Prizmic, despite the Croatian defending six match points before the Serb clinched victory.

The Serb, as of now, has won his last 29 matches at the Australian Open, where he holds a 90-8 record overall. His next test in Melbourne will be against Alexei Popyrin or Marc Polmans.

Djokovic looked in control of the match after clinching the first set as the 18-year-old opponent struggled and was forced to undergo treatment twice on his left upper leg in the opening set. Thereon, his opponent settled in and started to express himself but shed a 3-1 lead in the second set.

Prizmic later opened a 6/2 lead in the tie-break and held firm to convert his fourth set point to amend the complexion of the match.

Prizmic broke Djokovic’s serve twice in a row to rally from 0-2 to 3-2 in the third set but failed to sustain the haul. Djokovic steamed in with vigour, though he laboured to convert his match points. At last, he wound up the match, laced with 40 winners, including nine aces.

In the post-match interview with the broadcaster, Djokovic said, “He (Prizmic) deserved every applause, every credit that he got tonight. He is an amazing player, so mature for his age and he handled himself on the court incredibly well.”

“This is his moment, honestly. It could easily have been his match as well. He was a breakup in the third, he fought even though he was 0-4 and a break point down [in the fourth set]. He fought. He showed great mentality and resilience. He made me run for my money tonight,” he said.

Djokovic further said, “I started very well… I’m trying to enjoy every moment on the court. I struggled at many different moments tonight, but credit to him. Due to his incredible gameplan, he just had an answer for everything. He was very physical.”

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