Djokovic eases past Chardy in strong start to title defence

Novak Djokovic storms into round two of the Australian Open with a commanding win over Jeremy Chardy on Monday night in Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic’s title defense will continue against Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a ninth Australian Open title with a convincing straight-set win over Jeremy Chardy on Monday night.The reigning champion and world No 1 looked in ruthless form as he won 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 in a little more than n hour and a half.

Djokovic, who beat Dominic Thiem in a five-set thriller in the 2020 final, was in an authoritative mood as he took the first two sets in just 56 minutes.Chardy, whose best Grand Slam result is reaching the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in 2013, offered some valiant resistance in game five of the third set before Djokovic eventually claimed the crucial double-break.

The 17-time major winner eased through the final two games in front of a jubilant crowd, finishing with back-to-back aces to set up a second-round match with Frances Tiafoe.

“It makes my heart full to see the crowd in a stadium again,” said Djokovic, who has reached at least the semi-final stage in seven of his previous nine majors. “There’s an ongoing love affair between me and the Rod Laver Arena. It’s definitely one of the most special courts on the tennis tour around the world and my most successful. Every time I step on this court, I relive those memories.”

Djokovic’s preparations for the tournament were overshadowed by a row over quarantine conditions for players arriving in Australia. The 33-year-old having lobbied Tennis Australia and state authorities to loosen restrictions for 72 players who had to spend two weeks in their hotel rooms.

There was little about his performance on Monday to suggest any distractions from the task at hand, although he bristled a little in the on-court interview when it was put to him he had been “frustrated” in recent weeks.

“I’m just really glad we’re free, playing tennis, back in Australia,” he responded. “It’s a happy place for us; a happy slam.”

Data Slam: Djokovic at his clinical best

Djokovic dropped just nine points on serve and hit 41 winners to just 11 unforced errors, sending down nine aces and one double-fault.

Such imperious play left Chardy, who had lost all 13 of their previous encounters, with little chance of an upset.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 41/11
Chardy – 20/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 9/1
Chardy – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/13
Chardy – 0/0

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