Australian Open: Djokovic cruises through

Novak Djokovic Australian Open ATP

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Novak Djokovic kicked off the defence of his Australian Open crown with a comfortable three-sets victory over Lukas Lacko.

Djokovic, who is the hot favourite to win a fourth straight title in Melbourne, made light work of his opponent with a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 victory.

The Serbian opened up a 4-1 lead in the first set only for his ultra-reliable backhand to let him down as Lacko broke back.

However the 96th-ranked Lacko then failed to hold his own serve as Djokovic took the opening set.

The second lasted a mammoth 57 minutes as Lacko fought hard in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena, before Djokovic eventually took it on the tie-break.

Djokovic then raced through the third set, to make it 22 straight wins in Melbourne and set up a clash with Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in the second round.

Djokovic accepted he was not at his best but was just pleased to avoid a banana skin and book his place in the second round.

“I was happy with my concentration,” he said. “I thought I prepared well. Physically I feel great. I’m very motivated obviously to play my best.

“I know that I haven’t played my best, especially in the second set. But also credit to my opponent, who was playing really nice tennis from the baseline.”

Meanwhile, Djokovic believes he is set for a bright future with new coach Boris Becker, who watched over the victory.

“We both hope to get the right benefits and the right results right away here in Australia,” he added. “We worked very hard during the last four weeks. We believe that hard work will pay off, as was the case in the past.

“I did not expect ourselves to understand each other so well right away. So it all goes in the right direction.”

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