Novak Djokovic shook – a little – but he continued his journey at the Australian Open. Undisputed master of the place, the world number 1 began the quest for his eleventh title in the Rod Laver Arena, Sunday January 14, with a confrontation that seemed largely affordable against the Croatian Dino Prizmic, 178th player in the world, from qualifying. But, as the Serb confided at the end of the meeting, he “got his money’s worth”.

Because facing his impetuous 18-year-old opponent, Djokovic was heckled as rarely during a Grand Slam entry. Unimpressed, Prizmic pushed his illustrious opponent to his limits, even allowing himself to snatch the second set in the tie-break and leading with a break in the third set, before giving up (6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4).

If Novak Djokovic finally escaped, he did not reassure his fans either, he who had already been beaten by the Australian Alex de Minaur (6-4, 6-4) during his last outing in United Cup, a mixed team competition, on January 3. During the match, he experienced pain in his elbow, a recurring injury for the Serb. “It had a definite impact, particularly on the forehand and the serve,” he later admitted at a press conference.

This time, his elbow does not seem to have had any impact on the course of the match, the world number 1 even allowing himself to play without an elbow brace, as has already happened to him in the past. The fact remains that his form was not optimal, as he explained at a press conference. “I’ve been a little woozy for four, five days. You can probably hear it in my voice. That’s how it is, you have to try to deal with it and overcome it. »

Mixed day for the French

Should we therefore remove Djokovic from the list of title contenders? “The last two or three years I got injured just before the Australian Open, and I managed to get the trophy in 2021 and 2023,” recalled the Serbian after his defeat against Minaur. Last season, he also lost a set early in the tournament, against Frenchman Enzo Couacaud in the second round, before rolling to the title.

Besides Djokovic, many title favorites experienced great difficulties, but for the most part all won. The 5th player in the world, the Russian Andrey Rublev, was led until the tie-break of the fifth set by the Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild (7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6) , while the American Taylor Fritz (12th) managed to turn the situation around against the Argentinian Facundo Diaz Acosta (4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4).

Jannik Sinner (4th) had no difficulty in defeating the Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp (6-4, 7-5, 6-3) while the defending champion Aryna Sabalenka defeated the German Ella Seidel. The Belarusian, world number 2, won 6-0, 6-1.

On the French side, the results are mixed on the evening of this first day. If Quentin Halys and Diane Parry managed to reach the second round, the French clan has already lost three representatives: Arthur Rinderknech, Léolia Jeanjean and Alizé Cornet. The 33-year-old from Nice was playing her 68th Grand Slam in a row, but was largely beaten by 20-year-old Russian Maria Timofeeva (6-2, 6-4).