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Djokovic Sends Early Message to Australian Open Field With Straight-Set Win Over Verdasco

Djokovic: ‘When I saw the draw, I thought to myself this is the only match to focus on because my tournament could finish early.’ #AusOpen

— George Bellshaw (@BellshawGeorge) January 17, 2017

As you can see Djokovic was as nervous about this match as I was as a fan. Verdasco is not the name you want to see next to your name in the first round of the Australian Open. When his game is on he is top five material.

But he is mentally extremely fragile which is why he never consistently performed. That said, Djokovic did extremely well to defeat him 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2. The first set was very good from Djokovic while Verdasco appeared nervous as he kept shanking forehands.

In the second set, Verdasco seemed to settle down a bit as he went a break up twice but couldn’t consolidate on either occasion. This was a dangerous time for Djokovic because had Verdasco held onto a break and won the second set there was no telling what could happen.

The draw seems rigged that he got Verdasco in the first round but he was on a mission and after Verdasco went up a mini-break to lead 4-3 in the tiebreak Djokovic won the next four points to effectively shut Verdasco out.

pic.twitter.com/J9Q672ZIdr

— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 17, 2017

The second set was always going to be a key set and it was a rollercoaster ride with both Djokovic and Verdasco playing some brilliant and average tennis. But in the end, Djokovic won it by being mentally the stronger player.

As I expected Djokovic is looking in fine form after winning Doha and by shutting Verdasco out as easily as he did he sent a strong message to the rest of the field that he is in Melbourne to win a 7th Australian Open title.

He is going to be awfully hard to stop that’s for sure. This is exactly the position he wanted to be in after what happened in the second half of 2016. The slump was understandable but he needs to prove a point now at his favorite slam.

His draw looks pretty good until the final but there is still a lot of tennis to be played.

Elsewhere in the Draw

Nadal was also in action today against Florian Mayer who he defeated 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 which is a good start for him. The bad news for him is that Zverev won too after needing five sets to defeat Haase.

A third round encounter between Nadal and Zverev would be a delicious scenario. Then Raonic and Dimitrov both had straight-set wins as well. Only one seeded player lost which was Lopez who lost to Fognini.

Alexander Zverev avoids the letdown, defeats Robin Haase in five sets. 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. (Getty) #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/mC0XKKgW4r

— Tennis Photos (@tennis_photos) January 17, 2017

I won’t be making a post every day but I will be making posts to my Facebook page like I did for the first day’s action when Murray, Wawrinka, and Federer were in action.

Tomorrow is the turn of the top half again where Murray will play against Rublev, Wawrinka against Johnson, and Federer against another qualifier Rubin.

Berdych will also play Harrison and if both him and Federer win there will be another very interesting third round match!

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