World No. 1 Novak Djokovic escaped serious injury in an incident with overzealous fans after helping Serbia beat Italy at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, yesterday.
Djokovic, who only arrived in the city on Sunday evening after winning an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, was too good for Italian Andreas Seppi, defeating him 6-3, 6-4.
After the match, Djokovic made his way to sign autographs for youngsters at the side of the court, but as fans clamored to get the Serbian star’s attention, the barrier holding them back fell onto his legs.
Djokovic spent a few moments on his haunches before gingerly walking off the court and canceling his post-match press conference to get treatment.
However the 25-year-old showed no signs of discomfort when he returned to the court for mixed doubles a short time later and played down the incident.
“I am good,” he said. “It was a bit of a shock and I am glad that the children involved are okay. I am fine.”
Djokovic, aiming for a third straight Australian Open title in Melbourne next month, made it 10 wins from as many matches against Seppi, in their first meeting since the Serb came from two sets down to win at this year’s French Open.
Yesterday’s win secured the tie for Serbia with his teammate Ana Ivanovic, the top seeds for the eight-nation event and playing the event together for the third time.
The Italians won the dead mixed doubles rubber.
Ivanovic gave the Serbians the lead with a commanding straight sets win over fellow French Open winner Francesca Schiavone in the women’s singles.
In an impressive start to her new campaign, Ivanovic won 6-0, 6-4.
Having been in Australia for more than a week, Ivanovic showed she was in good shape for next year’s first Grand Slam by overpowering Schiavone.
Ivanovic went into the match with wins over the Italian in their only four previous meetings, and continued that dominance.
Schiavone held break points in the first game, but Ivanovic steadied and then won the first seven games of the match.
Her only hiccup came when she was broken while serving for the match at 5-3, but she immediately broke back to secure the win.
Ivanovic, ranked 13th in the world after a solid year, said she was trying to play more aggressively as she seeks to recapture the form that took her to world No. 1 earlier in her career.
“I felt like I played well,” the 2008 French Open champion said. “I feel I have a lot more on the ball and I am playing the way I used to play before, setting up the points and using my forehand. The things I worked on during the off-season are paying off.”
AFP, BRISBANE, Australia
Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur’s miserable Australian form continued yesterday when she was knocked out of the first round of the Brisbane International by Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson.
Arvidsson took full advantage of 48 unforced errors from the Australian No. 1 to win 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 on Pat Rafter Arena.
Stosur, who grew up on the nearby Gold Coast, has struggled to live up to expectations when playing in her home tournament and has not made it past the second round in four attempts.
She has also failed to make an impression at the Australian Open, last year losing in the first round to Romania’s Sorana Cirstea as sixth seed.
Stosur began confidently against Arvidsson, but fell away dramatically as her error rate climbed and despite fighting hard to stay in the match, she never seriously threatened the Swede.