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By Chris Oddo

Novak Djokovic Australian Open (January 16, 2013) -- Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was pitch perfect for much of his 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 drubbing of 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison in Wednesday night's night session on Rod Laver Arena. And when he wasn't pitch perfect, he was still plenty good.

It was an emphatic statement by Djokovic, and it served notice that the 25-year-old Serb is 100 percent engaged when it comes to the challenge of defending his Australian Open title.

The five-time Grand Slam champion, who is bidding to become the first player in Open Era history to win three consecutive titles down under, was never tested by the World No. 62. Playing at a tidy clip throughout, Djokovic peppered Harrison in the early going, winning the first set in 20 minutes while losing only three points on his serve.

The second set was slow by comparison, 30 minutes in total, but it yielded a similar result, as Djokovic broke twice and lost only one point on serve.

Harrison has now lost all sixteen of his career encounters with top ten opposition, but Wednesday's drubbing was more about the brilliance of the World No. 1 when he is in top flight than the youngster's inability to compete with elite competition. There wasn't much Harrison could do to stop Djokovic, and even as he worked his way into the flow of points in the third set, there was always the feeling that Djokovic would decide when and how this match ended.

It ended with a service break, Djokovic's fifth of the evening. As the Serb ripped a forehand down the line into the wide open court, there wasn't much Harrison could do but look on in admiration, and a little bit of envy.

Djokovic will seek his 18th consecutive Australian Open win in round three when he meets 34-year-old Czech Radek Stepanek. Stepanek breezed past Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Seeded players fared well on day 3, as only 23rd-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia was the lone seed to fall. He lost to unheralded compatriot Evgeny Donskoy in five sets.

As good as Djokovic's performance in the night session was, real drama on Wednesday occurred early in the day on the men’s side, away from Rod Laver Arena.

On Court 6, American Brian Baker had to be carted off the court after falling prey to a knee injury in the second set of his match with No. 20 seed Sam Querrey. ESPN later reported that Baker, known for overcoming a long history of injuries to return to prominence in 2012, had torn his lateral meniscus and would miss about four months.

Querrey, who sat with Baker to console him while he waited for medical assistance, will carry the stars and stripes forward to the third round. He’ll face 15th-seeded Stan Wawrinka as the last American standing in the men’s singles draw.

In another match that drew lots of attention on the side courts on Wednesday, Polish sensation Jerzy Janowicz recovered from a two-set deficit to slip past Somdev Devvarmen 6-7(10), 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5. Janowicz, playing in his first Australian Open as the No. 24 seed, had a much publicized meltdown after a poor line call went against him on set point in the first set tiebreaker.

The 6’8” dropped the court on his hands and knees and screamed “How many times?” to the umpire, then proceeded to argue his case for the next two minutes. While the incident was going viral on YouTube and the tennis blogospher, the Pole went about the business of trying to gather himself before being unceremoniously bounced out of the draw. He did, crushing a return winner on match point, and raising his arms in jubilation and relief when it was all over.

Janowicz advances to face 10th-seeded Nicolas Almagro in the third round. Almagro defeated Daniel-Gimeno Traver 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

While the drama was going on in the Janowicz and Baker matches, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych were winning there matches with ease.

Other seeds to advance were No. 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic, who took out Lukas Lacko in a wild five-setter, 16th-seeded Kei Nishikori, who defeated Argentine Carlos Berlocq in straight sets, and No. 28 seed Marcos Baghdatis, who defeated Tatsuma Ito in four sets.


(Photo Credit: AP)

 

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