Four-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic got his 2015 account off to a strong start on Tuesday, beating AljazBedene in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
As if the idea of playing Djokovic alone weren’t bad enough forBedene, according to the tournament’s Twitter account, Djokovic has never lost to a player ranked lower than 100 at a major tournament.
With that said, Djokovic did go into the first round with some slight question marks regarding his health. According to Piers Newbery of BBC Sport, he had been dealing with the flu and a stomach ailment in the days leading to the tournament.
“I had a tough couple days but it’s all behind me now. I’m ready,”Djokovic said yesterday.
He looked none the worse for wear as he stifled Bedene at nearly every opportunity. The 25-year-old Slovenian couldn’t touch the top seed.
In addition to his physical and technical advantage, the Serbian star might have also benefited from a little stealth. Carole Bouchard joked that Djokovic‘s clothing offered the perfect camouflage inside the arena.
Of course, it’s not like he needed any additional edge to put Bedeneaway. Once Djokovic earned a service break in the first set, Bedenewas fighting a losing battle.
The gulf in talent between the two players was truly evident in the second set. Djokovic dropped a solitary point on serve after winning his first 15 service points:
Workmanlike would be the best way to describe how Djokovicperformed. You saw a few of the brilliant shots that make him such a great player, but he didn’t need to dig deep into his bag of tricks to prevail. He simply put his head down and attacked Bedene right from the offing. He wasn’t about to let the underdog build any confidence.
Djokovic‘s service game in particular was superb. He lost 18 of his 79 service points over the three sets, and Bedene had just three break-point opportunities.
Bedene himself didn’t serve too badly, picking up 12 aces, but you’re not going to be one of the best players in the world winning 65 percent of your first serves and 49 percent of your second serves.
Djokovic is the No. 1 player for a reason. You’d expect him to make quick work of Bedene, and that’s exactly what he did. It’s hard to be any more or less confident that he’ll get a fifth title on the basis of this match.
Either Andrey Kuznetsov or Albert Ramos-Vinolas will play Djokovic in the second round, and neither should be a stiff test for him. His first real challenge is likely be Fernando Verdasco in the third round.