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Novak Djokovic has easy first-round win at Australian Open

Oct 11, 2020; Paris, France; Novak Djokovic (SRB) reacts during his match against Rafael Nadal (ESP) on day 15 at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic cruised to an opening-match win on Monday at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Djokovic posted a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Djokovic is seeking his ninth Australian Open title, which would make him just one of two men to win a single Grand Slam event at least nine times. Rafael Nadal has 13 victories at the French Open.

“It felt great,” said Djokovic, 33. “I started the match really well. Broke his serve and [it was] pretty much flawless match, especially on my service games. I was very dominant. I went very quickly through my service games. I think every shot that I executed tonight was really good and on a high level. I’m very pleased with the way I opened up [at] the Australian Open.

“I felt really relaxed and comfortable on the court tonight, so I could allow myself to try out some things and come to net. But I thought I was very solid and didn’t allow him to have time to try to do something with his forehand.”

The Serbian hit 41 winners and will face American Frances Tiafoe in the next round. Tiafoe eliminated Italian Stefano Travaglia 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-2.

Monday largely was a good day for players seeded in the first 20, with all but one advancing. Losing was 10th-seeded Gael Monfils of France, who lost to Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland in an epic five-set match.

Ruusuvuori needed three hours, 46 minutes to defeat Monfils, and he did it on the strength of saving 17 of the 23 break points he faced, including all five in the fifth set.

“For sure a tough one,” the 21-year-old Finn said of the match. “Probably the longest match I’ve ever played and a tough five-setter against a great player. But I thought I played a good match. Both [of us] were a little up and down, and that’s how it went to five, but yeah, I was able to come through today and just really happy about that.”

Monfils made 64 unforced errors in the match, which contributed to his first loss in the Australian Open first round since 2006.

Next up for Ruusuvuori is Pedro Martinez of Spain, who defeated Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

Other seeded players who were victorious on Monday included No. 3 Dominic Thiem of Austria, No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany, No. 8 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 14 Milos Raonic of Canada, No. 15 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 17 Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland.

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the 18th seed, and 20th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada also won.

Another seeded Canadian, No. 11 Denis Shapovalov, advanced by beating unseeded Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Sinner was playing his fifth match in four days after winning the Great Ocean River Open on Sunday.

“You don’t want to play long five-set [matches] at the beginning of the tournament, but I am just really happy to get the win,” Shapovalov said. “Jannik is such a great opponent. Honestly, he is so talented, he is so great, such a great guy. I am really happy that he has been doing well. I am sure he is going to be a really, really good player. [He is] now, but in the future, for sure.”

–Field Level Media