Melbourne: Defending champion Novak Djokovic beat Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 to win his 17th consecutive match at the Australian Open on Friday.

The 34-year-old Stepanek, ranked 34th in the world, did little wrong in the entertaining clash but the Serb's court craft, service return and retrieval skills were just too good in the end, reports Xinhua. The Serbian came through his first serious test of the event by breaking Stepanek's serve in the 11th game of the third set then held to win the match in two hours and 22 minutes.

"It wasn't an easy game. It was three close sets. I felt that I had much more chances on his serve than he had on mine." said Djokovic. "Maybe I could have won the third set earlier. But credit to him, he always played well when he needed to.

"Djokovic, the two-time defending champion at Melbourne Park who also won the title in 2008, is aiming to become the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian Open titles.


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