16 Jan 2018

Djokovic and Wawrinka progress at Australian Open

7:31 pm on 16 January 2018

Novak Djokovic needed less than two hours to stamp himself as a serious Australian Open contender.

The six-time Melbourne Park champion crushed American Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-4 in his first official match in six months to march into the second round.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Apart from an adjusted service action, the Serbian superstar showed no signs of the elbow injury that has sidelined him since Wimbledon as he booked a potential date on Thursday with flashy Frenchman Gael Monfils.

"It's always great to be back on the court. There's no better place to start playing than here in Australia. I love playing here," Djokovic said.

"It's been a long period for me without any competition. First match after six months, you never know how you're going to start out of the blocks.

"I was so grateful I had this opportunity to be here because a month ago I didn't know because my elbow was not ready."

The 12-times grand slam champion said his time away from tennis allowed him the opportunity to reflect on his career and life, and devote treasured time to his growing family.

He and wife Jelena celebrated the birth of Tara, a sister for three-year-old Stefan, in September.

"I spent as much quality time with my family. Obviously becoming a parent for a second time is a great blessing," Djokovic said.

"So I had my hands full, even through I didn't have a racquet in my hand.

"They're not with me. I miss them, but I missed tennis as well."

His family may not have been courtside at Margaret Court Arena for his successful comeback, but Djokovic's celebrity coach Andre Agassi was.

Agassi is sharing Djokovic's coaching duties with recently retired Czech Radek Stepanek.

"I thank him from the bottom of my heart," Djokovic said of Agassi, himself a four-time Open champion.

Meanwhile Swiss player Stan Wawrinka survived a mini-meltdown against Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis to progress through to the second round at Melbourne Park.

The ninth seed, a late starter for the Australian Open with lingering knee pain, dropped seven consecutive games and berated Berankis' box for talking, but lived to fight another day with a 6-3 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-2) win.

The three-time slam champion's trademark backhand was on song and he looked to be moving well throughout the two-hour-and-47-minute affair on Hisense Arena.