Australian Open: Novak Djokovic allays hamstring damage fears with straight units win over Roberto Carballés Baena
Novak Djokovic dispelled any considerations that the lingering hamstring damage which has hampered him since final week would have an effect on his performances on the Australian Open, because the world No. 5 battled previous Spain’s Roberto Carballés Baena 6-3 6-4 6-0 within the opening spherical in Melbourne.
It was definitely a stern opening check for Djokovic, as world No. 75 Carballés Baena proved a gritty and decided opponent for the opening two units.
Nevertheless, Djokovic finally broke Carballés Baena’s resistance with a very beautiful third set of tennis to get his quest for a record-extending tenth Australian Open title off to the very best begin.
Djokovic obtained a heat welcome from the group in Melbourne, as he had finished final week throughout his victorious run on the Adelaide warmup occasion, in what was his first Australian Open look for the reason that deportation debacle one yr in the past.
“Unbelievable ambiance, thanks for staying this late everyone,” Djokovic mentioned to large applause and cheers in his post-match interview. “Additionally thanks for giving such a welcome and reception I may solely dream of.
“I’m very comfortable I’m again in Australia and again right here on the court docket the place I’ve had the most important success of my profession. This court docket is probably the most particular in my life.
“The extra you win on a sure court docket, the extra comfy and assured you’re feeling. That’s in all probability one of many causes I’ve been lucky sufficient to win a number of matches on this court docket within the evening session.
“If I’ve to decide on one court docket and one situation, it will be evening periods on the Rod Laver Enviornment all day lengthy.”
Novak is again
The win was Djokovic’s thirty fifth straight victory in Australia and the indicators had been ominous for Carballés Baena within the opening exchanges.
With the scores tied at 2-2 and the match simply 19 minutes previous, the distinction in exertion between the 2 gamers was already obvious.
At one finish, Carballés Baena was respiratory closely, his soaked shirt already sticking to him. On the different, it regarded as if Djokovic had barely damaged a sweat.
The Serb was quickly made to work laborious, nonetheless, as Carballés Baena manufactured a 0-40 lead within the fifth sport to earn himself three break factors.
Djokovic’s left thigh was closely strapped as he continues to handle the hamstring damage that pressured him to tug out of a apply match final week and followers maybe would have briefly began to marvel if it was hindering him.
However the 21-time grand slam champion swiftly allayed these fears and ripped off 5 straight factors to carry serve after which promptly proceeded to interrupt Carballés Baena to like.
It wasn’t simply the Spaniard’s serve that Djokovic had damaged however his spirit, too, because the world No. 5 gained 13 of the following 15 factors to take a commanding 5-2 lead.
Maintaining that early stage of depth simply to maintain tempo with Djokovic was at all times going to be troublesome for Carballés Baena and the nine-time Australian Open champion quickly closed out the primary set 6-3.
Nevertheless, big credit score should go to Carballés Baena for not letting the frustration of the primary set have an effect on his morale, because the 29-year-old continued to play aggressive tennis and a few beautiful protection to actually make Djokovic earn his first service sport of the second set.
With the scores tied at 3-3, an epic 28-shot rally – which Djokovic gained after chasing down a Carballés Baena drop shot – set the tone for what could be the deciding sport of the second set.
It was a grueling five-minute lengthy slog with Djokovic finally popping out on prime to interrupt serve for the primary time within the set, earlier than occurring to carry to like within the very subsequent sport.
One other maintain of serve from Carballés Baena ensured Djokovic must serve for the second set, however he as soon as once more held to like to take a commanding two-set lead.
The match was now seemingly over as a contest as Djokovic gained the opening two video games of the third set to like after which broke Carballés Baena to take a 3-0 lead.
It was a very absurd spell of tennis, throughout which Djokovic gained 16 of 17 factors because the Serb turned up the warmth and entered the zone that has made him fully unplayable at moments throughout his profession.
For any of Djokovic’s potential Australian Open opponents that had been watching, maybe probably the most horrifying a part of this ultimate set was that the 35-year-old was seemingly nonetheless enjoying effectively inside his limits.
Djokovic closed out the ultimate set with out dropping a sport to ship an actual assertion of intent to the remainder of the draw.
It was a harsh finish to the match for Carballés Baena, who had carried out admirably within the opening two units to make this opener an actual contest.
If there was anybody doubting Djokovic’s standing as the favourite for the Australian Open previous to this match, there gained’t be now.