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Djokovic Tops Qualifier Prizmic in AO Marathon Opener

Novak Djokovic of Serbia survived a four-hour marathon match against 18-year-old Croatian qualifier Dino Prizmic in his Australian Open opener. Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images

Extended excellence marks Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open dominance.

Defending AO champion Djokovic survived the long game in his AO opener tonight.

Pushed in the longest first-round Grand Slam match of his career, Djokovic subdued stress and talented qualifier Dino Prizmic, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in a grueling AO opener.

Launching his quest for a record 25th Grand Slam championship, Djokovic tamed the 18-year-old major debutant half his age in a four hour, one minute marathon. 

The exhausting experience left Djokovic feeling like he was playing a mirror man at points as Prizmic produced some of the superb sliding strikes reminiscent of the champion.

It was the top seed’s 29th consecutive Australian Open victory and the longest Grand Slam first-round victory of Djokovic’s career, surpassing his 2005 US Open win over Gael Monfils that was played on an outer court and featured a lengthy timeout for treatment. 

Afterward, Djokovic praised his dynamic teenage opponent as “amazing” and shared he’s been battling illness in recent days.

“I am a bit under the weather last, yeah, four, five days. You can probably judge by my voice,” Djokovic said. “Look, it is what it is. You just have to try to deal with it and get over it and accept the circumstances and try to make the most of it.

“I mean, I had an amazing opponent tonight. For an 18-year-old, he played so maturely and confidently on the court, fighting through, not giving up even when he was four down in the fourth set. Impressed with his mentality, with his approach, with his game. I hear a lot of positive stories about his discipline, his dedication to everyday routines that are making him so physically strong already at 18 and successful.

Yeah, if he continues this way, he’s going to have a very bright career ahead of him, no doubt.”

The world No. 1 will play an Aussie in round two: either Alexei Popyrin or 156th-ranked wild card Marc Polmans.