Australian Open: Novak Djokovic struggles but beats Enzo Couacaud

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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic struggles but beats Enzo Couacaud

A nine-time champion Novak Djokovic is through to the Australian Open third round for the 15th time from 18 trips to Melbourne. Djokovic beat a qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-0 at Rod Laver Arena to remain on the title course.

Novak struggled with a left leg injury and asked for treatment in the second set closing stages. He lost it in the tie break before taking charge and sailing toward the finish line in sets three and four. Enzo experienced an ankle injury in the encounter's opening stage, struggling but finding enough energy to challenge a great rival in set number two.

The Serb was not at his best but faced only one break point in the entire clash, at 2-0 in the fourth set. He kept the pressure on the other side and missed a chance to seal the deal in straight sets after squandering three break points in the second set.

Novak Djokovic toppled Enzo Couacaud in the Australian Open second round.

Djokovic was too strong in the opener, delivering one good hold after another and challenging the rival to repeat that. Couacaud was far from that level, squandering game points to experience a break at 1-2 and fall behind.

Djokovic grabbed another break in the sixth game and wrapped up the opener on his serve a few minutes later. The Frenchman felt better in the second set and produced a couple of comfortable holds to stay in touch at 3-3. Novak missed a break chance in game seven and started to feel his left leg in the upcoming games, requiring treatment and wasting two more break chances in game 11.

Enzo survived all the obstacles and climbed back from 3-0 down in the tie break to make it more interesting. Novak hit a double fault at 5-5 and sent a backhand long on the rival's set point to experience a setback. Djokovic made a fresh start in the third set and produced one good hold after another.

Couacaud was far from that pace, losing serve at love in game two and allowing Djokovic to wrap up the set with another return game at 5-2. Novak broke in the fourth set's second game to build the advantage and fended off the only break chance in the next one to forge a 3-0 lead.

Enzo sprayed a backhand error in the fourth game to lose serve again and push world no. 5 closer to the finish line. The Serb hit two double faults in game five and held after deuce for 5-0. Novak placed a drop shot winner in the sixth game for two match points and cracked a backhand down the line winner on the first to seal the deal and emerge at the top.