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Novak Djokovic didn't have things his own way against Fernando Verdasco on Tuesday at the Australian Open.

Djokovic Opens Bid For Seventh Crown In Melbourne

Serbian star hits 24 winners in his first match at 2017 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open crown on Tuesday night when he defeated 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 in two hours and 23 minutes. The pair met 11 days ago in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals, with Djokovic saving five match points in the second set tie-break.

“I started really well,” said Djokovic. “[I played a] great first set and a great third set, as well. The second set was a long set with a lot of unforced errors from both sides. It was a gamble, really. He was two or three times a break up. I had my chances at 4-All, 5-All, many break points.

"But at the end of the day, I knew that winning second set would be crucial, because I definitely didn't want to give him wings. I didn't want to have him start swinging at the ball, as he knows. I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form and how well he played in Doha.”

World No. 2 Djokovic took a 5-0 lead at the start of the pair’s 14th meeting and despite being broken twice in the second set, the Serbian capitalised on winning the tie-break to open a 3-0 lead in the third set. He is now 58-6 at Melbourne Park and will next face Denis Istomin in the second round. Istomin beat Ivan Dodig 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 15 seed, needed just over two hours to defeat wild card and World No. 231 Christopher O’Connell 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3. The Bulgarian’s best result at the major came in 2014 when he advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal).

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