The second round of the Australian Open awaits for Novak Djokovic as he made light work of Donald Young, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, in his return to competitive action after a six-month lay-off.
Djokovic created no fewer than 25 break point opportunities in a little under two hours on Margaret Court Arena, showing no signs of sluggishness in his first competitive match since Wimbledon last year.
He was aided by an error-prone Young in the opening set but the 28-year-old raised his game in sets two and three but was hapless against the formidable Serb, whose penchant for unbelievable shotmaking has not abetted in his time off.
Djokovic will face Gael Monfils in the second round, with the Frenchman dispatching Jaume Munar in straight sets earlier in the day.
The last time Djokovic faced the diminutive American he went onto to win the Eastbourne International last summer and Young seemed unnerved by the 30-year-old during the opening exchanges.
His feet scurried around but the unforced errors were flying off of his racket. Djokovic was keen to take time away from the American and it only took until the fourth game of the set to break his resolve.
He consolidated for a 4-1 lead and for all of Djokovic’s evident rustiness in the forecourt he was proving vintage moments from the baseline. The Serb secured the double break before serving out the opening set as Young’s unforced error count stood at 17.
It was more of the same in the second frame as Djokovic broke the American almost immediately. Young’s confidence looked shot, frequently peering up to his coaching box in disbelief and he could only stand and admire as Djokovic brought the crowd to their feet.
The fireworks were out in the third game of set two as he produced one of his trademark sliding forehand passes before manufacturing an exquisite backhand lob to break for the second time in the set.
He briefly let his guard down when Young broke to love to recover one of the breaks of serve but he closed out the second set with consummate ease. Barely an hour had elapsed.
The third set was less of a procession but the pressure was still piling on the American. He staved off a break point in the opening game before salvaging another three at one-all, but his resistance was halted on the fourth break point when Djokovic connected with a rasping backhand return that whistled past the American.
He continued to test Young but the 28-year-old stood up to the challenge. The Serb held five separate match points on the American’s serve but he swatted them all aside to force Djokovic to serve into the second round.
By the close of play, Djokovic had fashioned break points in ten out of Young’s twelve service games. He will relish the opportunity to add a seventh Australian Open to his resume.