Novak Djokovic praises ‘amazing’ Dino Prizmic after first-round Australian Open duel

Teenager won a set in four-hour first round encounter in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic hailed Dino Prizmic as a future star after his narrow 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 win against the 18-year-old Croatian to reach the second round of the Australian Open. The world No 1 also admitted he has been under the weather for the past “four, five days” as he tries to win his 11th title here.

“He deserved every applause, every credit that he got tonight,” Djokovic said. “He’s an amazing player, I must say, so mature for his age. This is his moment, honestly. It could have easily been his match as well. He was a break up in the third. He fought, even though he was 4-0 down.

“He showed great mentality, resilience. He made me really run for my money, that’s for sure. Honestly, I have many, many praises for him. Many compliments.”

Despite a quick start by Djokovic on Sunday night, he quickly found himself in a slugfest against a player half his age. After narrowly edging out the second set tiebreak, Prizmic led by a break at 3-2 in the third set. The Croat played without fear against the best player in the world and the most famous person from their region, maintaining pressure on the Serb until the end. His performance earned him an ovation from Djokovic after the match.


“I certainly wanna be in his corner so hopefully he will invite me because he is gonna make some big things in his career, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said, smiling.

Djokovic was watched on Sunday night by his former coach Andre Agassi, a four-time champion in Australia and another player whose career endured deep into his 30s. “I started off very well for a 36-year-old,” Djokovic said. “Jeez, when you think about it, I’m double his age. Reality hits hard tonight. But I’m really trying to enjoy every moment on the court.”

Although his wrist issues appeared to be clear, a congested Djokovic admitted that he had been unwell over the past few days in Melbourne: “I am a bit under the weather for the last, yeah, four, five days,” he said. “You can probably judge by my voice. 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.”

Although the Arthur Ashe day session concluded at 4:25pm, the two and a half hours between sessions meant that Djokovic finally departed Arthur Ashe Stadium at around 11:30pm. Part of Tennis Australia’s reasoning for pushing the Australian Open to a Sunday start was to lessen the chances of late-night finishes. In the end, only an imperious performance from Aryna Sabalenka ensured a reasonable finish on the opening day as the defending champion demolished Ella Seidel, a German qualifier, 6-0, 6-1 to advance.

Six years on from her long-awaited first grand slam title at the 2018 Australian Open and four years on from her first retirement at the 2020 Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki also reached the second round after Magda Linette, the 20th seed and last year’s semi-finalist, retired due to injury as Wozniacki led 6-2, 2-0.

“I feel like I came into this tournament, this year, knowing exactly where I was, where I need to be, and what I need to work on. It’s a little bit different. At the same time I think I have nothing to lose and everything to win,” said Wozniacki.

The women’s draw is filled with comebacks this year, but not every comeback is a return from injuries or maternity leave. Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals of the 2019 French Open aged 17, took a break from tennis in April last year in order to address her ailing mental health. Nine months later, the 22-year-old returned to grand slam competition with a win, defeating 13th seed Liudmila Samsonova 6-3 6-4. – Guardian