Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, January 17, 2023


Deported from Australia last year, Novak Djokovic was dazzling in his AO return roaring past Roberto Carballes Baena to his 22nd straight Melbourne win.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Don't let the triathlete endurance, contortionist elasticity and gluten embargo fool you.

Fitness freak Novak Djokovic loves a good party.

More: Miracle Maker Murray Prevails

Walking onto Rod Laver Arena to the sounds of Serbian fans chanting "Nole! Nole!", Djokovic delivered a dynamic Australian Open comeback celebration.

Deported from down under last year, Djokovic was dazzling in his return soaring through 10 of the last 11 games in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 dismissal of Roberto Carballes Baena to land in the AO second round for the 16th time. 

Tennis Express

It was Djokovic's 22nd straight Melbourne Park victory and 35th consecutive victory on Australian soil.

The rousing response from fans inspired Djokovic, who was bounced out of Australia last January over his unvaccinated status.

The fourth-seeded Serbian felt the love from fans singing his name and waving Serbian flags of support.

"I felt very welcome on the court, especially the Serbian community that is big here in Australia has welcomed me in an incredible way," Djokovic told the media in Melbourne. "So much support. So much love. I mean, I could not ask for a better start of the tournament in terms of support, in terms of how I felt on the court and also playing."

Major multi-tasker Djokovic continues to master Melbourne challenges.

Launching his quest for a men's record-tying 22nd Grand Slam crown, Djokovic played with taping snaking around his left hamstring in an effort to protect the injury he suffered en route to his 92nd career title in Adelaide earlier this month.

In a declaration of intent, Djokovic drilled an ace to open.

Though he seemed initially cautious to test the leg, Djokovic was moving more freely as the adrenaline flowed and match progressed.

By the end, Djokovic streaked through the two hour, two-minute win on the strength of 41 winners against 21 unforced errors.  

The 35-year-old Serbian said while the hamstring is not perfect, it's progressing.

"The leg is good. It's not ideal, but it's getting there," Djokovic said. "Today was a really good test. Haven't had too much training in the last few days, to be honest with you, tennis-wise.

"Yeah, I was really, really hoping that things will be well on the court from the first to the last point, which was the case. I'm actually really glad that it felt better as the match progressed. The third set was great. I mean, that's a good signal, a good sign."

Nine-time champion Djokovic hopes his cranky hamstring will heal as he plays for history.

Next up for Djokovic is either qualifier Enzo Couacaud or Hugo Dellien.

The king of Rod Laver Arena is competing for a record-extending 10th AO title and a 93rd career championship, which would give him sole possession of fourth place on the ATP all-time list behind Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (103) and Ivan Lendl, who won 94 career championships.


Latest News