Novak Djokovic Defeats Jeremy Chardy in Straight Sets at 2021 Australian Open

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2021

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating France's Jeremy Chardy during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)
Hamish Blair/Associated Press

Novak Djokovic's return to the Australian Open stage went as smoothly as possible.

Djokovic needed just over an hour-and-a-half to earn a dominant 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Jeremy Chardy in their first-round matchup in Melbourne on Monday.

Going for his third consecutive Australian Open championship, Djokovic looked to be in absolute peak condition. He recorded nine aces, won 48 of his 57 service points overall and played excellent defense against a seemingly overwhelmed Chardy.

"It makes my heart full to see a crowd in the stadium again," Djokovic said after the match. "There's an ongoing love affair with this court, between me and Rod Laver Arena. ... I've been very lucky to have a lot of success on this court, a lot of memories."

The Australian Open is being played in front of fans, a response to the country's excellent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia has been extremely diligent in its handling of the influx of people coming to the country for the year's first Grand Slam, requiring strict quarantines and testing policies to avoid any potential spread.

The result is perhaps the most "normal" feeling sporting event since the beginning of the pandemic. A capacity crowd watched on as Djokovic quickly established the oddsmakers correct in making him the favorite for the event, with a potential ninth win at the Australian Open on the line. 

A third straight triumph Down Under would make Djokovic the second men's player in tennis history with at least nine Slams in the same event, joining Rafael Nadal at the French Open (13). 

American Frances Tiafoe awaits Djokovic in Round 2. Tiafoe breezed to a straight-sets victory over Stefano Travaglia in his opening match.

The 23-year-old has never played Djokovic head-to-head.