Defending Champion Novak Djokovic emphatically crushed Frenchman Jeremy Chardy on Monday to start his quest for an unprecedented ninth Australian Open title.
The Serb world number one, who won his 17th Grand Slam in last year’s final at Melbourne Park, wasted very little energy in defeating the Frenchman 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 in just 91 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
They were against each other 13 times before, with the world number one winning them all. Djokovic, chasing his 18th crown is to close in on the 20 held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic compared his relationship with the Australian Open to a “love affair”.
He enjoyed himself while performing spectacularly well for the socially-distanced fans in the stadium.
“It feels great, so great to see people back in the stadium,” he said.
“I’m really glad to see a lot of people actually — this is the most I’ve seen on a tennis court in 12 months.
“Sometimes we take these things (crowds) for granted, but very very grateful to see you all,” he added.
The 33-year-old defeated Chardy in the opening game and was never troubled. The Frenchman won just two points off the Serb’s service game. A similar situation occurred in the second set as Chardy felt it difficult to cope up with Djokovic’s serving.
The Serb next faces American Frances Tiafoe, with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and former world number three, Milos Raonic his potential obstacles to quarter-finals.
“It’s the first time I will face him, he’s definitely one of the up and coming American tennis players,” Djokovic said of Tiafoe. “I’m looking forward to the next challenge.”