MELBOURNE, Australia — Back on the court where he won his only Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic overcame an early struggle against a journeyman Swiss player before advancing to the third round of the Australian Open.
The third-ranked Djokovic had nine double-faults and 52 unforced errors in his 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win Thursday over Marco Chiudinelli, the Swiss player who was playing in his first Australian Open.
“I was well aware of his quality, and he played extremely well, especially in the first set and the start of the second,” Djokovic said. “I was very lucky to get two sets to one up.”
“This court is most special because I won my only Grand Slam here,” the 22-year-old Serb said of Rod Laver Arena. “It has the nicest possible memories.”
Djokovic will next play Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who beat Michael Berrer of Germany 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who rarely gets onto the centre court at this stage of a Grand Slam, had a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 win over Ukraine qualifier Illya Marchenko in the low-key manner which has typified an 11-match winning streak.
The 28-year-old Russian doesn’t have the profile of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, and he’s never made a Grand Slam final, but nobody has been playing better lately.
He dominated Marchenko on Show Court 2, which is No. 4 in the pecking order of courts at Melbourne Park, to extend a winning sequence that has included title runs at the World Tour Finals at the end of 2009 and Doha to start this year.
Former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic has the profile, but no recent form to go with it. The 22-year-old Serb extended her run of poor results in a second-round 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 loss to Gisela Dulko of Argentina.
Dulko was broken twice while serving for the match before finally breaking Ivanovic’s serve — helped by two double-faults from the 2008 French Open champion — to clinch a place in the third round on her sixth match point.
Ivanovic, who lost the 2008 final here, has slipped to No. 21 in the rankings and didn’t win a tournament in 2009. It was her first loss to Dulko in their three meetings.
“It’s hard. It hurts, I must say. For sure it will. But it’s a process,” Ivanovic said of her hopes to regain a top-10 position. “I do feel better on the court. I’m playing much better. I feel like my old self. There are still some areas that are not there for me to rely on. I just have to sort of keep my head up and try to improve, work.”