• Australian Open

Djokovic bid for history underway

ESPN staff
January 13, 2014
Djokovic stuttered in the second set, but proved too strong for Lacko in the end © Getty Images

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Novak Djokovic began his bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open singles title with a 6-3 7-6(2) 6-1 win over Lukas Lacko.

With his new coach and six-time grand slam singles champion Boris Becker watching him during a competitive match for the first time, Djokovic appeared tentative early against the Slovakian player, who often appeared content to keep the ball in play and wait for a Djokovic mistake.

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But as the second-seeded Djokovic's patience level began to drop, his skill level stepped up. He stayed on course for a fifth Australian title, the first man to achieve that feat since the Open era began in 1968.

Djokovic was far from his best and, having broken world No. 96 Lacko to lead 4-1 in the first, the Serb sent a sloppy backhand into the net to allow his opponent a way back into the set.

But Lacko failed to take advantage - and dropped his serve in the very next game.

The second was a far closer affair that lasted just three minutes shy of an hour in which Djokovic needed a tie-break to double his lead.

By this point, Lacko's fight was over and the second seed cruised through the third set to record his 22nd straight Australian Open win.

But he will be disappointed with 30 errors next to his name and there is a lot to work on before his second-round tie with Argentina's Leo Mayer.

"I know that I haven't played my best, especially in the second set," said Djokovic. "But credit to my opponent who was playing really nice tennis from the baseline.

"On the other hand I was a little bit too passive in some stages of the match and was trying to find the proper, I would say, setting and proper balance and footing in the court."

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