World No. 2, Novak Djokovic starts his quest for a record-extending eighth Australian Open title on Monday night when he takes on big-hitting German, Jan-Lennard in the first round.
Novak Djokovic vs Jan-Lennard Struff Match Info
Date: Monday January 20
Tournament: Australian Open R1
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 8:30pm local time (9:30am GMT)
Novak Djokovic vs Jan-Lennard Struff Head-to-Head
2017 | Doha R1: Djokovic def. Struff 7-6 6-3
2019 | Roland Garros R16: Djokovic def. Struff 6-3 6-2 6-2
Novak Djokovic vs Jan-Lennard Struff Match Preview
After a couple of surprising early Australian Open exits in 2017 and 2018, Djokovic reclaimed his Melbourne crown last season, dismissing Rafael Nadal in the final to earn his record-breaking seventh title. The Serbian went on to add Wimbledon to his Grand Slam collection, scoring an epic five-set victory over Roger Federer in the championship match after saving two match points.
Djokovic also won titles in Madrid, Tokyo and the Paris Masters in 2019, but that wasn’t enough to secure him the year-end world No. 1 ranking, as he was overtaken by Rafael Nadal before the end of the season. Regaining that ranking will be one of Djokovic’s main targets this season.
Djokovic made an excellent start to 2020, playing a pivotal role as Serbia won the inaugural ATP Cup. The 16-time major champion won all of his matches, and was particularly impressive in his 6-2 7-6 victory over Nadal in the final, sending warning signals to the rest of the tour. He looks fit, he looks very sharp and ready to go.
Djokovic has admitted that the ATP Cup took a lot out of him, and as a result, he has not been going full throttle in training in his build-up to the Australian Open. The 32-year-old was initially scheduled to compete at last week’s tournament in Adelaide, but he pulled out of the event following his exertions at the ATP Cup.
“It [The ATP Cup] was a phenomenal couple of weeks and great lead-up to Australian Open. But it did take a lot out of me”, Djokovic said. “I did adjust my training sessions towards that, so I had a little bit more of recuperation rather than just stepping on accelerator a little bit more”.
“I just actually kind of put a level down a little bit, just tried to keep the sessions a bit shorter, with good intensity. That’s all, just maintain the right rhythm for the first match.”
That first match will be against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday night.
At No. 37 in the world, Struff is one of the most dangerous unseeded players floating around the draw, but he will count himself a little unfortunate to have floated into the path of the pre-tournament favourite.
Coming off his career-best season, Struff would have been eyeing a decent run in Melbourne, but those hopes received a mighty blow when his name appeared against that of seven-time champion, Djokovic in the draw ceremony!
“God, why? Why that?” Struff recalled thinking after he was drawn against Djokovic. “It’s one of the draws you don’t want to get first round.”
A solid 2019 included semi-finals in Auckland and Stuttgart, quarter finals in Barcelona, Basel, and a maiden Grand Slam fourth round at Roland Garros. He also made the Round of 16 at Indian Wells and the third round at Wimbledon. Struff put together a 34-27 record in 2019, peaked at a career-high No. 33, and ended the season at 35th in the world.
He was OK at the ATP Cup, winning two of his three singles matches. He lost a tight one to Nick Kyrgios, but took down Michail Pervolarakis, and more impressively, Felix Auger-Aliassime in his other matches.
Unfortunately, Germany failed to progress into the knockout rounds. Struff rounded up his Australian Open preparations in Adelaide, where he defeated Salvatore Caruso before falling, rather surprisingly, to Alex Bolt in the second round.
The German has a very poor record at the Australian Open, winning just one match in his five previous main draw appearances.
Novak Djokovic vs Jan-Lennard Struff Prediction
Djokovic has not dropped a set in his two previous matches against Struff, and the Serbian looks set to continue his dominance over the world No. 37 on Monday. With his big serving and big hitting, Struff does carry a genuine threat and is very dangerous if he gets going, but Djokovic has carved a career from neutralizing players like Struff. The top seed would have preferred a less tasking opener, but he should be far too consistent for Struff on Monday night.