At the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park on Sunday night, Novak Djokovic successfully began his title defense effort by defeating 18-year-old Dino Prizmic in the opening round, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4. The Serbian player defeated the Croat in a match that lasted four hours and a minute, the longest he has ever played in a round-one match at the Slams, after giving the qualifier a “run for his money” in the second and third sets, where at one point he even led the scoreline with a breakup. With the victory, Djokovic extended his winning run in Melbourne and achieved a historic victory at the Australian Open.
At the first Grand Slam of the season, where he made his debut in 2005 and won his first championship in 2008, it was Djokovic’s 90th victory. After Serena Williams (92) and Roger Federer (102) at Melbourne Park, he became the third player, male or female, to have achieved 90 or more victories there.
But with that total, the 36-year-old became the first person in history to win 90 or more major championships in at least three of the four events. At the US Open and Wimbledon, he has each won 92 matches. As it was, he was the only tennis player in history to have won 80 or more of the four majors. He now needs just two more victories to reach 90 at the US Open. Federer is the only other player to have won at least 70 games in each of the four Grand Slam tournaments: 102 in the Australian Open, 73 at Roland Garros, 105 at Wimbledon, and 89 in the US Open.
In addition to being his 29th straight win at the Australian Open, the victory over Prizmic marked his first match back since his unexpected fourth-round departure in 2018. The run of victories still stands as the longest by a man in Melbourne history, having earlier eclipsed Andre Agassi’s record of 26. The winner of Alexei Popyrin and Marc Polmans’ all-Aussie first-round encounter will take on Djokovic next.
Epic Gesture from Djokovic at Australian Open
In front of a crowded Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park, defending champion Novak Djokovic faced qualifier Dino Prizmic in a thrilling round-one match that began the night session on Sunday, the historic opening day of the 2024 Australian Open. The encounter concluded at the close of the fourth hour, becoming the longest first-round match that Djokovic has ever played at a Grand Slam. Despite dropping the second set, the Serb managed to hold on and even pull off a late comeback. Ultimately, Djokovic expressed his admiration and respect for the 18-year-old with an incredible gesture following the match.
In his maiden main-draw appearance at a Grand Slam, young Croatian tennis player Prizmic gave a remarkable performance against 24-time major winner Djokovic. Despite leading at one point in the third set, Prizmic couldn’t secure the win, and Djokovic ultimately triumphed. Djokovic indeed acknowledged Prizmic’s strong challenge and sportsmanship by hugging him twice, applauding him, and urging the crowd to do the same. The match, marked by thrilling moments and a potential upset, ended with a standing ovation from the Rod Laver crowd. Djokovic’s resilience and Prizmic’s spirited fight made it a memorable encounter.