Djokovic praises 'complete' Verdasco

By Dejan Kalinic 14 January 2017 103
Djokovic praises 'complete' Verdasco

World number two Novak Djokovic labelled Fernando Verdasco a "complete player" as he prepares for a tough Australian Open first round.

The Serbian, a two-time defending champion at Melbourne Park, was handed a tricky opener against Spaniard Verdasco.

Djokovic holds a 9-4 win-loss record over the left-hander, but had to save five match points to claim a victory at the Qatar Open in his first tournament of 2017.

The 12-time major winner said he knew the enormity of the challenge awaiting him.

"I hope I will not get to the stage where I have to defend match points," Djokovic said on Saturday.

"Again, you know, Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. On a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface, as I said.

"[Rafael] Nadal last year in five sets, he won first round. He has won against most of the top players.

"He's not overwhelmed by, I guess, the occasion of playing on centre court. He has had that experience many times.

"So, again, a lot depends, of course, on how I feel, how he feels. It's the first match of the grand slam.

"We both need to start with the right intensity, of course. We're going to be obviously striving to do so. But I'm expecting a tough one, there's no doubt about it."

Verdasco reached the Australian Open semi-finals in 2009 and last year stunned Nadal in the first round in a five-set thriller.

But Djokovic was unwilling to go as far as to suggest it was a nightmare draw.

"I still haven't had nightmares, so I can't call it a nightmare draw. I just see it as a huge challenge," he said.

"I hope I'll be able to deliver."

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Dejan Kalinic