Top seed and four-time champion Novak Djokovic lost just five games as he cruised into the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday.
World number one Djokovic thrashed Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-0 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes, with all three singles matches on Rod Laver Arena completed so quickly that a men’s doubles match was hastily added to the day schedule.
Djokovic won the first nine games against a hopelessly outclassed Kuznetsov, who received a sympathetic cheer when he finally troubled the scorers in the fourth game of the second set.
The former Wimbledon boys’ champion at least had the temerity to break Djokovic at the start of the third, but normal service was instantly resumed and Djokovic closed out the match in ruthless fashion.
“After my first-round match I was hoping to have this kind of performance, especially the opening two sets,” Djokovic said. “Everything went as I planned and wished and hopefully I can stay on this path.
“(Kuznetsov) is a very talented player. He’s still young and he’s of the generation of my younger brother (Marko) who knows him well, so I spoke to him because I had not seen Kuznetsov play a lot.”
Djokovic has dropped just two sets over the first and second rounds since 2007, winning his first title at Melbourne Park in 2008 and lifting the trophy three years in succession from 2011.
“Generally this is my most successful grand slam and the tournament where over the years I’ve performed my best tennis,” the 27-year-old said. “The reason? I think there is not one reason. A few reasons together.
“Probably the fact that I enjoy the conditions of play. Even though the last two years the courts have played faster, significantly faster than they were before, still I do enjoy being here in Australia. Some nice, positive, easy-going, sport-oriented energy going around. People appreciate the sport and make you feel good.
“Of course it’s the beginning of the year. It’s the first big tournament. Everybody comes fresh and motivated. I guess in this kind of package it’s a combination of things that make me feel comfortable on the court here.”
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who ended Djokovic’s 25-match unbeaten run here in the quarter-finals last year, also safely reached the last 32, but needed two hours and 16 minutes to finally subdue the resistance of Romanian qualifier Marius Copil.
The first two sets took longer to complete than Djokovic’s entire match as they lasted an hour and 35 minutes, with Wawrinka winning both in tie-breaks before taking the third set 6-3.
“It was quite a tough match,” fourth seed Wawrinka said. “I’m happy to get through, especially in three sets.
“The conditions weren’t easy today. Quite hot. Really fast on the court. And he was playing great. He was serving big, putting lots of pressure. I wasn’t playing my best tennis, but I’m happy the way I fight today and the way I did with the match.
“I’m happy with my game in general. To win the two first matches in three sets, it’s great. I’m playing great tennis. As I say, if you want to get far in the tournament, it can be two long weeks. So you need to be ready to have some ups and downs. So far it’s been good tennis. I’m happy.”
Wawrinka will face Jarkko Nieminen in the third round after the Finn defeated German qualifier Matthias Bachinger in straight sets, with fifth seed Kei Nishikori taking on American Steve Johnson after coming from a set down to beat Croatia’s Ivan Dodig.