With nine trophies on his tally, Novak Djokovic is the most decorated player in the Australian Open history. Novak qualified for his first Australian Open main draw on January 15, 2005, beating Wesley Moodie 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and debuting on the big scene at 17.
Two days later, the youngster faced world no. 4 Marat Safin in his first Major match and suffered a 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 loss in 74 minutes. The finalist from a year ago and an eventual champion won almost 50 points more than Djokovic.
Safin stole nearly 70% of the return points to forge a massive advantage and sail over the finish line. Novak broke Marat once but needed more to stay competitive and challenge a great rival at packed Rod Laver Arena. Safin created 13 break chances and seized nine to control the scoreboard and sail into the next round.
Novak Djokovic made his Major debut at the Australian Open 2005.
The Russian made a strong start and claimed the opener 6-0 with a service winner in game six after just 19 minutes. The 17-year-old produced two solid holds at the beginning of the second set to gain momentum.
Still, he hit a double fault at 2-2 to experience a break and send Safin in front. Marat grabbed another break following Djokovic's double fault in the seventh game and closed the set with an unreturned serve a few minutes later for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage in 49 minutes!
The rivals traded breaks at the start of the third set, and Safin clinched another at 1-1 to move in front. World no. 4 placed a return winner at 3-1 to extend the advantage and emerged at the top with another successful break of serve at 5-1.
Safin explained that Djokovic felt sorry about his performance, but the Russian noticed the youngster's potential. "I played well. It was the opening round, and it's better to focus and give your 100% to seal the deal without problems.
You have to spend as little time on the court as possible because you never know what awaits you in the next one. Novak is young, and nobody knows anything about him. I had to be careful, knowing he had nothing to lose. I'm happy that many people from Serbia and Russia cheer for us.
Novak said 'I'm sorry' after the match, probably because it looked so easy. Still, he gave his best, and I'm sure he will be a great player, and I told him that. He is 17 and has great potential; I wish him all the best and a long successful career," Marat Safin said about Novak Djokovic.