Novak Djokovic praised Dino Prizmic as a rising talent following his close 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 victory over the young 18-year-old Croatian in the first round of the Australian Open. The top-ranked player in the world also confessed to feeling unwell for the past “four, five days” as he aims for his 11th title at this event.
Djokovic expressed that the player truly deserved all the applause and recognition he received tonight. He also acknowledged the player’s impressive maturity at such a young age. This was truly his moment and he had the potential to win the match, as he was leading in the third set. Despite being down 4-0, he fought until the end.
“I was impressed by his strong mindset and determination. He really pushed me to my limit. I have nothing but praise and compliments for him.”
Although Djokovic had a strong start on Sunday evening, he soon found himself in a tough match against an opponent half his age. After barely winning the second set tiebreak, Prizmic gained a break at 3-2 in the third set. The Croatian player showed no fear against the top-ranked player in the world and the most well-known person from their area, keeping the pressure on until the end. Djokovic even gave him a round of applause after the match for his impressive performance.
“I definitely want to be in his corner, so hopefully he will invite me. He is going to achieve great things in his career, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said with a smile.
On Sunday evening, Djokovic’s former coach Andre Agassi, who is a four-time champion in Australia and also had a lengthy career in his 30s, watched him play. Djokovic commented, “Considering I’m 36 years old, I started off strong. It’s crazy to think that I’m twice his age. It’s a harsh reality tonight. But I’m making an effort to savor every moment on the court.”
Despite seeming to have resolved his wrist problems, Djokovic revealed that he had been feeling unwell during his time in Melbourne. “I’ve been a little under the weather for the past four or five days,” he explained. “You can probably tell by my voice. It is what it is. I just have to cope with it, overcome it, and accept the situation, and make the best of it.”
The second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka started her defense of the title with a strong performance, easily defeating German qualifier Ella Seidel 6-0, 6-1 in just 53 minutes.