Australian Open 2021: Novak Djokovic serves up first round masterclass on favourite Melbourne Park court

Novak Djokovic is back to doing what he does best, steamrolling Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena in the opening round of the Australian Open.

After two weeks of quarantine in Adelaide and a brief, but damaging spat with his hosts over the terms of the isolation, the world No.1  let his tennis do the talking, as he eased to a 297th Grand Slam victory.

Djokovic has won eight of his 17 major titles on Melbourne Park's main showcourt and even with a smaller crowd than usual, the Serbian looked very much at home on the distinctive blue surface.

"There's an ongoing love affair with me and this court," he said to cheers from the fans.

"I've been lucky to have so much success on this court and hopefully it will continue for many years. It makes my heart full to see so many people in the stadium.

"This is the most people I've seen on a tennis court in 12 months. Thank you."

Chardy had never taken a set off his opponent in 13 previous matches and with Djokovic landing three-quarters of his first serves, the Frenchman was unable to muster a single break point.

With Djokovic finding the corners with his ranging strokes to rattle up 41 winners, Chardy's small victories were the occasions when he battled back to hold his serve.

Djokovic brought a definitive end to the unequal contest with back-to-back aces after 91 minutes and will next play American world No.62 Frances Tiafoe in the second round. 

Elsewhere, local bad boy Nick Kyrgios beat Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the opening round at the John Cain Arena.

World No.47 Kyrgios sent down 14 aces and hit 40 winners to wrap up the match in just under two hours.

Dominic Thiem overcame an early wobble, before overpowering Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(2) 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round.

Third seed Thiem was broken twice in the first set and had to fight off a set point at 6-5, before rallying to take the tiebreak at Rod Laver Arena.

Beaten in a five-set final by Novak Djokovic last year, the Austrian found his rhythm and ended up racing to the finish, breaking Kukushkin to love to seal the match.

US Open champion Thiem will meet the winner of Dominik Koepfer and Hugo Dellien for a place in the third round.  

Dominic Thiem in action
Dominic Thiem in action Photo credit: Getty
Nick Kyrgios in action
Nick Kyrgios in action Photo credit: Getty
Denis Shapovalov in action
Denis Shapovalov in action Photo credit: Getty

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev recovered from a slow start to beat American Marcos Giron 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.

The German made 19 unforced errors in the opening set and lost in a tiebreak, but took control later, hitting 50 winners and 16 aces to reach the second round.

Other first-round men's results

Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to the second round with a 7-5 7-6(4) 6-2 win over world No.42 Kei Nishikori.

Bulgarian 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov beat Croatia's Marin Cilic 6-4 6-2 7-6 (5) in the opening round.

Frenchman Gael Monfils was beaten 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 by little-known Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in one of the day's biggest upsets so far.

Men's 17th seed Stan Wawrinka beat Portugal's Pedro Sousa 6-3 6-2 6-4. The Swiss sent down seven aces and hit 35 winners, while Sousa made 31 unforced errors, five more than his opponent.

Canada's Milos Raonic moved into round two with a 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over Argentine Federico Coria.

Canadian 11th seed Denis Shapovalov sealed a hard-fought comeback victory by beating Italian Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 in the opening round.