Novak Djokovic (No. 1-SERBIA) has advanced past the first round of the 2024 Australian Open tennis tournament (A$86.5 million in prize money) with a stunning victory.
Djokovic defeated 178th-ranked Dino Prizic (Croatia) 3-1 (6-2 6-7<5-7> 6-3 6-4) in four hours and one minute in the men’s singles first round on the first day of competition in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday.
It was Djokovic’s 29th consecutive win at the Australian Open.
He has won the event four times, including a 28-match winning streak from 2019 to last year, excluding the 2022 edition, which he missed due to COVID-19 vaccination concerns.
Djokovic, who holds the record for the most major singles titles of any player, male or female, will be looking to win his 25th career title.
Only Margaret Court (Ret., AUS) has won 24 major women’s singles titles.
Djokovic struggled through the match, dropping the second set in a tiebreak and being down 2-3 at one point in the third set.
However, Djokovic changed her top from blue to white and won the next four games to take the third set, and the tide of the match never turned.
The four hours and one minute match was the longest Djokovic has ever played in the first round of a major.
Prizic, who came through qualifying, was born in 2005 and is 18 years younger than Djokovic, who was born in 1987.
It is the oldest men’s singles match at the Australian Open since Ken Rosewall and Carey Stansbury in 1978.
After the match, Djokovic said, “Przemyslaw deserves a round of applause, it’s amazing how mature he is at his age,” adding, “He could have won if I hadn’t been careful.”
Djokovic’s next opponent will be the winner of the Alexey Popirin (No. 43)-Mark Fawlmans (No. 156-Australia) match.
With the powerhouses largely cruising, 33-year-old “senior” Caroline Wozniacki (252nd-ranked Denmark), a wildcard in the women’s singles, advanced to the second round with a straight-sets victory over Magda Linette (24th-ranked Poland).
Wozniacki took the first set 6-2 and led 2-0 in the second before Linette retired due to injury.
It is the first time in four years that Wozniacki has reached the third round at the Australian Open after reaching the third round in 2020.
The mother of two retired from the sport in 2020, but returned to the court last year and showed she was still a force to be reckoned with, reaching the round of 16 at the US Open.
Bozniacki also competed at the ASB Classic in New Zealand just prior to the Australian Open, where she lost in the first round to fellow “mom player” Elina Svitolina (No. 23-Ukraine).