In an attempt to begin his quest for a historic 25th Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic withstood a tough test on Sunday, January 14, at the Australian Open against adolescent Dino Prizmic. However, the reigning women’s champion, Aryna Sabalenka, soundly defeated her opponent, 6-0, 6-1.
In the longest first-round match of his grand slam career, Croatian teenager Dino Prizmic gave Novak Djokovic a scare.
The world number one is much favored to win his 11th title at Melbourne Park in the Australian Open, which he hasn’t lost since 2018. However, he lost the second set as Prizmic, who is 18 years old, displayed his exceptional future potential.
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Top-seeded Djokovic won 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4. He is vying for an 11th Australian Open victory to surpass Margaret Court on the all-time majors list.
With 24 Slams under his belt, the Serbian has already surpassed Rafael Nadal, who is out with an injury, by two and four, respectively, to become the most decorated player in men’s tennis.
The 36-year-old, who is now on a 29-match winning streak in Melbourne, was predicted to win easily against Prizmic of Croatia, who is half his age.
The Croatian qualifier threatened to pull away in the third set, but Djokovic rallied from a 3-2 deficit and reeled off the next eight games to seize control, and he was able to snuff out another late fightback.
“He’s an amazing player, so mature for his age, and handled himself on the court incredibly well. This is his moment, honestly. It could have been his match as well,” remarked Djokovic after Prizmic left the court to a standing ovation from the Melbourne crowd.
Currently, Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open due to a muscle tear injury.
The second-seeded Sabalenka defeated German qualifier Ella Seidel, racing through the first set 6-0 in just 22 minutes. She denied a rare “double-bagel,” but made no mistakes on her serve to seal the victory in 53 minutes.
“Super happy to be back in Melbourne. I have incredible memories from here,” the 25-year-old said.
“Hopefully I can stay here till the very end.” Djokovic will play either Marc Polmans or Alexei Popyrin, both Australians, in the second round of the Australian Open next match.