Djokovic makes strong start to his title defence

12:43, Jan 14 2014
2014 Australian Open gallery
VENUS WILLIAMS: bowed out early in the first round.
2014 Australian Open gallery
EKATERINA MAKAROVA: celebrates her surprise win over Venus Williams.
2014 Australian Open gallery
DAVID FERRER: won through to the second round.
Nivak Djokovic gallery
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: got a first round win over Lukas Lacko.
Novak Djokovic
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Shirt changes likely common at this year's Australian Open.
Serena Williams
SERENA WILLIAMS: overpowered Ashleigh Barty in the first round.
Marcos Baghdatis
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: shows flexibility's important for a pro tennis player.
Yanina Wickmayer
YANINA WICKMAYER: beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in the first round.
Sabine Lisicki
SABINE LISICKI: had a straightforward 6-2 6-1 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: celebrates winning her first round match against Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
HARD IN THE HEAT: An official attends to a ball boy who collapsed during the men's singles match between Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain and Milos Raonic.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
MILOS RAONIC: serves on an outside court with the Melbourne city skyline in the background.
Andy Murray gallery
ANDY MURRAY: had a comprehensive win in his first round match against Japan Go Soeda.
Marina Erakovic gallery
MARINA ERAKOVIC: hits a forehand during her first round match with Sorana Cirstea.
Serena Williams gallery
SERENA WILLIAMS: untroubled in the second round match.
Novak Djokovic gallery
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: hits a forehand during his second round match with Leonardo Mayer.
Roger Federer
ROGER FEDERER: reaches to hit a return to Blaz Kavcic.
Roger Federer
RAFAEL NADAL: fires down a serve to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Andy Murray
ANDY MURRAY: trailing 5-1 in the third set, Murray wins 23 straight points to close out a straight sets victory over Vincent Millot.
Victoria Azarenka
VICTORIA AZARENKA'S: personalised shoes during her match against Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Australian Fanatics
'FANATICS':cheer during Nick Kyrgios' match against Benoit Paire.
Maria Sharapova gallery
Maria Sharapova hits a backhand during her third round match against Alize Cornet.
Roger Federer gallery
Roger Federer has won through to the last 16 of the Australian Open in straight sets.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Li Na in quarterfinal action against Flavia Pennetta.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
Agnieszka Radwanska gallery
Agnieszka Radwanska is through to the Australian Open semifinals.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Agnieszka Radwanska, left, shakes hands with Victoria Azarenka after their quarterfinal.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Grigor Dimitrov, left, and Rafael Nadal speak at the net after their epic last-eight clash.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer reacts after match point against Andy Murray.
Li Na gallery
Li Na celebrates her semifinal win over Eugenie Bouchard.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal crushed Roger Federer in straight sets, and will play Stanislas Wawrinka for his 14th grand slam title in the Australian Open final.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer heads to the Australian Open exit.
Li Na
THIRD TIME LUCKY: Li Na kisses the Daphne Akhurst trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open final.
Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova
Runner-up Dominika Cibulkova and champion Li Na during the trophy presentation.
Dominika Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova pumps her fist after winning a point in the Australian Open final.
Li Na
Li Na stretches for a two-handed volley in the women's final.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal receives treatment on his injured back during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka reaches for a forehand during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka kisses the Australian Open trophy after his first grand slam victory.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka sits with the Australian Open trophy at the post-final press conference.

With new coach Boris Becker watching on, Australian Open defending champion Novak Djokovic couldn't have asked for a better way to start his quest for a record fifth Melbourne Park title.

The Serbian second seed's 6-3 7-6(7-2) 6-1 win over world No 96 Lukas Lacko on Monday night was comfortable enough not to cost Djokovic too much physical or emotional energy.

But he was stretched enough at times to provide the sort of competitive tune-up he needed in what was his first official match this year and first since hiring former world No 1 Becker.

Djokovic admitted he was rusty in the first two sets.

But he said his game clicked in the third and he expected his union with Becker to help him in his attempt to become the first man in the Open Era to win five Australian Opens.

"We both hope to get the right benefits and the right results right away here in Australia," Djokovic said.

"We worked very hard during the last four weeks. We believe that hard work will pay off.

"He definitely has great observations on my game, on tennis in general.

"The understanding is great in the beginning. I did not expect ourselves to understand each other so well right away in the second or third week that we working are with each other."

Djokovic entered the tournament on a 24-match winning streak, which followed his loss to world No 1 Rafael Nadal in last year's US Open final.

He was also on a 21-match winning streak at Melbourne Park, having won the Open for the past three years, to go with his breakthrough 2008 triumph.

But, while he was always in control, he wasn't always at his best early in the match.

Djokovic gained an early break to take a 4-1 lead, but Lacko broke back comfortably in the seventh game of the first set.

It seemed to spur the Serb on, as he lifted his aggression in the next game to quickly notch another break, then served out the set.

Lacko made him work even harder for the second set, with no breaks of serve and barely an opportunity throughout.

But Djokovic again asserted his class to dominate the tiebreak.

By then, any sniff of an upset was gone and Djokovic raced through the last set in 23 minutes.

"I was a little bit too passive in some stages of the match and was trying to find the proper setting and proper balance and footing in the court," he said.

"It came at the right time, in the tiebreak in the second, and the whole third set was great."

It was Lacko's fourth successive first-round loss in a grand slam event.

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