World no. 2 and the seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic made winning start in Melbourne, defeating Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes for his 69th victory at the first Major of the season.
Novak fired 14 aces and had 44 winners and 28 unforced errors, leaving Struff far behind in sets two and four and delivering seven breaks to march over the finish line. Jan-Lennard gave his best to stay in touch, scoring four breaks and hitting more winners than unforced errors to overcome a massive deficit in the first set and stand strong in the third before the Serb shifted into a higher gear in the fourth to kick off the tournament with a victory.
Despite losing only ten points on serve in the first set, Novak couldn't finish the job before the tie break, making a perfect start in the first four service games and moving in front with a break in game six when the German netted a backhand.
Serving at 2-5, Jan-Lennard saved a set point with a booming ace, breaking back in the next game following a backhand error from Djokovic and reaching the tie break after playing rock-solid tennis in those moments. There, Novak prevailed 7-5 to avoid the setback, looking much better on the court in set number two that he wrapped up in less than 30 minutes with breaks in games one and seven.
Serving at 5-2, the defending champion held at 30 with a smash winner, taking two sets to love advantage after an hour and 15 minutes and looking good to seal the deal in no time at all. Instead of that, Djokovic lost ground completely in set number three, struggling to find the range and the first serve and allowing Struff three breaks that carried the German towards 6-2, giving him a massive boost ahead of set number four.
With no room for errors, Djokovic stepped up his game again, barely losing a point on serve and stealing Jan-Lennard's serve in games one, five and seven to seal the deal and advance into the second round.