Jiri Lehecka vs. Novak Djokovic: A Young Talent's Toughest Test in Australia

Novak Djokovic will play his first match against Jiri Lehecka at the United Cup

by Jovica Ilic
Jiri Lehecka vs. Novak Djokovic: A Young Talent's Toughest Test in Australia
© Paul Kane / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic and Jiri Lehecka will compete against each other for the first time at the United Cup on Tuesday. Lehecka praised world no. 1 and his incredible winning streak in Australia, describing a win over Novak Down Under as the most formidable challenge.

The young Czech will try to use his experience from practicing with the Serb, understanding he has to attack and rush to the net. The Czech Republic made a slow start at the United Cup, falling to China 3-0. Lehecka lost to Zhizhen Zhang 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes.

Jiri controlled the pace in the opener before Zhizhen pulled the break back and leveled the score at 5-5. The Czech delivered another break and claimed the opener 7-5. Zhang served well in the second set and held the strings with an early break.

The Chinese barely lost a point in his games, producing a fine hold at 5-3 and forcing a decider.

Jiri Lehecka will seek his chances against Novak Djokovic.

Lehecka erased the deficit in the final set before experiencing the crucial break at 3-3, allowing Zhang to seal the deal with fine holds in games eight and ten.

Novak Djokovic kicked off the season against Zhang, beating the Chinese player 6-3, 6-2 in 72 minutes. Djokovic served well and kept the pressure on the other side, facing no break points and stealing the rival's serve three times.

They served well in the encounter's opening games before Zhang experienced a break point at 1-2. The Chinese saved it and closed the game, remaining on the positive side. Djokovic grabbed the fifth game at love with a backhand winner and pushed hard on the return in the next one.

Novak Djokovic, United Cup 2024© Paul Kane / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak broke Zhizhen after the rival's forehand error, moving in front and holding at 30 in the next one for 5-2. The Serb closed the opener with a powerful serve at 5-3 after 34 minutes, hoping for more in set number two.

Djokovic broke at the beginning of the second set and held for 2-0. Novak stole Zhizhen's serve again in game three, taming his strokes nicely and controlling the pace. Djokovic held at love for 4-0 and created a match point on the return at 5-1.

Zhang saved it and held to prolong the action before Djokovic sealed the deal with a hold at 30 at 5-2. Novak finished the 2023 season on a high note, standing as the year-end no. 1 player and hoping for another strong run in 2024.

"I can not wait for my first match against Novak Djokovic. Knowing his winning streak here, facing Novak in Australia is the biggest challenge. I practiced with him often and will try to go for the ball and rush to the net," Jiri Lehecka said.

Jiri Lehecka Jiri Lehecka Novak Djokovic