By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 14, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic on Monday got his Australian Open 2013 campaign off to a confident start, defeating former top 20 player Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 42 minutes on centre court.
Djokovic will be hoping to win his fourth Australian Open title and is also vying to be the first man in the open era to win three consecutive Norman Brookes Challenge Cups.
Djokovic broke Mathieu in his opening service game heading to a 2-0 lead. He managed a second break with a crosscourt backhand winner while Mathieu was serving down 1-3 to take a 4-1 lead. Both players held their remaining service games, Djokovic claiming the first set 6-2.
The second set started in a similar vein as the first as Djokovic again broke Mathieu in the opening service game to take an early lead. It proved to be the only break he needed as the Serb sealed the second set 6-4
Mathieu managed to hold serve at the beginning of the third set as Djokovic relaxed his play. It proved to be a more evenly matched affair with Mathieu finding rhythm and producing some excellent forehand and backhand winners.
It wasn’t enough to stave off the top seed however as Djokovic was gifted a break point when Mathieu made an unforced error while service at 5-5, Djokovic taking a 6-5 leading then holding his next service game to claim victory 6-2 6-4 7-5.
On his assessment of the match Djokovic says “It was a good performance for a first round. You know, I felt I was in control of the match in the opening two sets. Then, you know, he started playing better, striking the ball quite well from both sides on the baseline. I thought he was serving really precisely and really well. It was tough to break. But in the end, that 11th game, I made some good shots, good points, you know, managed to go through straight sets.”
In the second round, Djokovic will play American Ryan Harrison who today defeated Colombian Santiago Giraldo in four sets 2-6 6-4 7-5 6-4.
“He’s one of these up-and-coming young talents who has been playing well on the tour for last few years. He likes playing on hard courts. I think he had lots of success in U.S. hard court tournaments. He has a big serve which he likes to use and big forehand. I played him few times before on different surfaces. I know what it takes to win that match.”
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.