Novak Djokovic explains key to winning Australian Open again after Frances Tiafoe win

Novak Djokovic defeats Zverev to reach ATP finals last four

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Novak Djokovic won an ace-fest with Frances Tiafoe in the second round of the Australian Open – and then claimed service will be the key to retaining his title on the fast court in the Rod Laver Arena.

The American gave the defending champion a good battle and took the first set and forced two tiebreaks.

But the world No.1 prevailed 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-3 after sending down 26 aces – against 23 by Tiafoe.

Eight-time champion Djokovic, who described the main court as his “living room”, said: “Very tough match. Also difficult conditions. While we had the sun on the court, it was very, very warm.

“A lot of long rallies. I want to give a hand to Frances for a great fight – it was a fantastic match.

“I was fortunate to get through the third set today. It was really anybody’s game – Frances played great, he served very well. 23 aces on his hand, 26 on mine

“That is probably the most aces I have served to someone and someone has served to me in a long time. Just high quality tennis. He gave it all.

“I guess if you win a lot on a certain court you feel more comfortable and confident coming each year. To this court It feel right. It feels like my living room. I feel very comfortable playing here.

It is only that I am not sitting on my couch in the living room – I am running all over the place.

“I think the surface has changed over the years to be honest. This is probably the quickest speed of the court that I have every played on in the Rod Laver Arena in the last 15 years. So ob you need a big serve. If you have a big serve – it helps, If you don’t, it doesn’t help and then you have to try and grind and win with the battle.”

Djokovic served aggressively but made only 62% of first serves – and world No.64 Tiafoe attacked his second serve and made two breaks.

But a big moment came in the first game of the fourth set. The American had already been given a time violation at the end of the third set – and a second warning at 1-1 30-30 led to a loss of first serve and a crucial break. Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-final in 2019, also earned a code violation for an audible obscenity before bowing out with a double fault on match point

Djokovic said: “Unfortunate warning which took away his first serve tat 30-30 and I broke his serve. These kind of things are just unlucky. He deserved to have a first serve and play it out all the way through. It is what it is.”

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