World number one Novak Djokovic began his 2024 Australian Open campaign with a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 victory over Croatian qualifier Dino Prizmic in the first night match of the tournament on Rod Laver Arena.
Seeking a record 25th major title, the Serb, who has now won 29 consecutive matches at Melbourne Park, played the longest first-round match of his Grand Slam career, needing four hours and one minute to dismiss the highly impressive 18-year-old.
After taking a relatively routine first set, Prizmic, who won the French Open Boys' title last year, broke early in the second set for a 3-1 lead before prevailing in a tiebreaker.
Winning the last eight games from 3-2 down in the third to the fourth set, Djokovic wrested control of the match only to see the Croat fight back once more before the 24-time major champion finally subdued the teenager in a pulsating encounter.
Djokovic gets past stiff challenge from Prizmic, plays longest opening-round match at a Slam ever
Djokovic began the match as he does so many others --- with a break of serve, forcing Prizmic to hit into the net and he set the tone for how the opening stages of the evening would go.
After holding to pull within 3-2, the 18-year-old Croat called for the trainer to attend to his upper thighs and after not making any sort of impression on the Djokovic serve, he was broken for a second time.
Serving for the set with a 5-2 cushion, the 24-time major champion closed things out with an ace on his first opportunity, needing just 45 minutes while not having things all his own way.
Prizmic held to start the second set, an important game to establish himself, and in the fourth game, he stunned everyone with a break of serve, ripping a cross-court winner for a 3-1 lead.
A break back by the ten-time Melbourne champion restored parity in the set and neither man was able to find the decisive break, the set to be decided in a tiebreaker.
Showing his impressive array of talent, the teenager dominated the tiebreaker, winning a point after a long rally, forcing Djokovic into a pair of errors and converting on his fourth set point to draw level after a pulsating rally.
Surprisingly, Prizmic won 21 of 33 rallies longer than nine shots heading into the third set and after falling behind 2-0, the young Croat fought back to make it 2-2.
After seven deuces, the powerful game of the heavy underdog forced Djokovic into more errors and he broke for a 3-2 advantage, the crowd sensing perhaps one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history could be on the cards.
The world number one would immediately offer a response, rattling off the final four games of the set with two breaks of the Prizmic serve as well as fighting back from 0-30 on his serve to clinch a two sets to one lead.
After taking a toilet break prior to the start of the fourth set, the teenager came out and continued to impress with dazzling returns but it wasn't enough to prevent him from losing the first four games.
Amazingly, Prizmic was able to reel Djokovic back in, drawing to within 4-3, his outstanding serve on full display as he threw in some aces at key times to get him out of trouble.
A love hold brought the world number one to within a game of victory and he held four match points but the Croat managed to gut out a hold to force Djokovic to serve it out.
Racing out to a 40-0 lead, Djokovic saw the first two match points come and go but on his third chance, he finally converted, ending the toughest first-round match he has ever played along with a deserved applause for an outstanding effort by Prizmic.