'If he's on, you never know' - Djokovic feared Verdasco upset


Novak Djokovic was braced for a shock early departure from the Australian Open after being drawn against Fernando Verdasco.

The six-time and reigning champion, aiming for a third successive triumph at Melbourne Park, defeated the experienced Spaniard 6-1 7-5 (7-4) 6-2 on Tuesday.

Djokovic had every reason to be worried when the draw was made, Verdasco having stunned compatriot Rafael Nadal in five sets in the first round last year.

Speaking to Channel 7 after his convincing victory, Djokovic said: "When I saw the draw I thought to myself, 'this is the only match I'm going to focus on', because I might finish off early in the tournament - if he's on, you never know.

"I managed to really start well with a great intensity, [the] first and third sets went really well. The second set was a gamble."

Djokovic is a popular figure in Australia, having won the first of his 12 grand slam singles titles on Rod Laver Arena in 2008.

Discussing his emotions upon returning Down Under, he said: "It feels like home.

"It feels like coming back to the place where I had an incredible amount of beautiful memories.

"Every time I land in Melbourne I get to relive all those memories, so thank you all for coming out.

"Thanks for filling out the arena. The second day of a grand slam and you already see a packed house. It's a fantastic feeling for a player."