Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic eased past South Korea’s Chung Hyeon in straight sets to kick off his quest for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title on Monday.
Djokovic beat the 19-year-old South Korean 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 1hour, 55 minutes in blistering heat on Rod Laver Arena that left him reaching for the ice vests and water.
Despite the high temperatures, the top seed sent out a chilling warning to his rivals as he set out to equal Australian Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Open crowns.
Djokovic looked in ominous touch for his rivals, sending the 51st-ranked Chung scurrying around the court chasing after his dazzling array of shots.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to come back to Rod Laver Arena, it’s the most successful court in my career and there have been many memorable moments in the matches I’ve played here,” Djokovic said.
“Chung is only 19, he’s tall and he plays well from the back of the court and he has a big future.”
The 28-year-old Serb is yet to drop a set this year and his performance in the Qatar Open final was described as “perfect” by one of his biggest rivals, Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic unfurled some of his famed leg-split volleys in taking the opening set in 40 minutes.
Chung grabbed his only service break in the opening set, but the Serb top seed powered through. Djokovic was clinical at the net, winning 15 from 15 points as well as dominating first serve points at 89 percent.
Djokovic broke Chung’s first two service games on the way to taking the second set. He grabbed another early break in the third set to charge away with the match.
The Serbian world number one’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam fell just short during his brilliant 2015 season.
He wore down Andy Murray to win last year’s final at Melbourne Park, and won three Grand Slams among 11 tournament victories in a stellar 2015 season, with a win-loss record of 82-6.
The 10-time Grand Slam champion is projected to face Japan’s seventh seed Kei Nishikori in the quarters and Switzerland’s 17-time major winner Roger Federer in the semi-finals.