Melbourne: Novak Djokovic launched his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title on Tuesday with an impressive 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 win over hard-hitting Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
The defending champion defended brilliantly at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena to frustrate the man who knocked Rafael Nadal out in the first round last year.
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Djokovic was forced to save five match points to beat Verdasco at the recent Qatar Open and was broken twice during a thrilling second set on the Melbourne Park centre court.
But the Serb raised his game as the 33-year-old flagged in the third to set up a second round match against either Ivan Dodig or Denis Istomin.