Novak Djokovic, under the watchful eye of former coach and eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi, was made to work hard for his opening-round win at the 2024 Australian Open on Sunday.
Taking on qualifier Dino Prizmic, the Serb battled on Rod Laver Arena for nearly four hours (three hours and 59 minutes) before prevailing 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in front of a vociferous Melbourne crowd.
Speaking at his on-court interview afterwards, the World No. 1 was asked if he noticed four-time winner Agassi in the stands, to which he answered in the affirmative.
Djokovic, beaming as the cameras focussed on the American, thanked Agassi for gracing his match and the Australian Open with his presence on the night. He went on to joke about how one of the returns he made in the fourth set reminded him of Agassi, only for him to lose three straight games after that moment.
Agassi, along with the crowd, began to laugh at the comment, following which the 24-time Grand Slam champion quickly noted that it was not his fault. Djokovic smilingly added that he just wanted to show the eight-time Major winner how his presence overwhelmed him.
“Of course [I noticed him]. Andre, great to have you, thank you so much for gracing us and the Australian Open with your presence. We haven’t seen you in years. Actually, 4-0 and deuce and I made a forehand winner, I smiled at you and I said, ‘It’s almost like your return,'” Novak Djokovic said.
“After that I lost three games in a row, not your fault, my fault. I lost my focus, but you know, I was inspired by your presence and overwhelmed to see you. Thanks for coming out,” he added.
“I definitely see a few more years of Novak Djokovic being the one that has to be dealt with” – Andre Agassi
Speaking in a recent interview during his time in Melbourne, Andre Agassi predicted that Novak Djokovic will remain the man to beat for a few more years at least, joking that the only opponent the Serb cannot beat is Father Time.
“The only thing I’m absolutely convinced about is Novak will not beat Father Time. It’s just a question of how long you can postpone it. I definitely see a few more years of him being the one that has to be dealt with,” Andre Agassi told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
“How can you say something isn’t possible? Records are meant to be broken, right? Obviously we’re just speculating on so many things, which includes health, and that’s going to start to rear its head,” he added.
Meanwhile, the World No. 1 will take on either Marc Polmans or Alexei Popyrin in the second round of the 2024 Australian Open.