Despite being on court close to two hours, the number two seed moves through.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic wore down Lukas Lacko to win his first competitive match under new coach Boris Becker at the Australian Open on Monday.
The Serbian world number two, bidding to win a fourth consecutive Australian title and fifth overall, had to work hard to subdue the 96th-ranked Slovak.
But after taking the second set in a tiebreaker, he swept to victory 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-1 in one hour 50 minute. He will face Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in the next round.
With tennis great Becker courtside, Djokovic looked far from his best and made 30 unforced errors. But he interspersed them with some glorious stretched volleys for winners.
“It’s my first competitive match this season after a five to six week break and I was rusty in the first two sets,” Djokovic said.
“I was struggling to find rhythm on my backhand side.”
Becker has been brought in to improve Djokovic’s game after a disappointing 2013 by his own high standards and with his regular coach, Marian Vajda, keen for more family time.
Djokovic won the Australian Open but lost to Rafael Nadal in the US Open final, then again in the semi-finals of the French Open, as well as bowing to Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final.
Six-time Grand Slam champion Becker will spend around 20 weeks a year on the ATP Tour with Djokovic.
Djokovic lost his service but broke the Slovak twice to take the opening set in 30 minutes.
The defending champion’s backhand misfired in the opening set and he made seven errors on that flank.
Lacko fought hard in the second set and conceded his first break point in the ninth game before the set went to a tiebreaker.
But Djokovic comfortably wrapped up the tiebreaker 7/2 to go two sets up after almost 90 minutes.
He skated through the final set in just 23 minutes as Lacko’s level dropped and the six-time Grand Slam champion stepped up a gear.