The six-time former champion didn’t always fire on all cylinders against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but took his chances and kept the French wild card under pressure in a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over two hours and four minutes.
Djokovic, who hit 33 winners including 12 aces, will next come face-to-face with 19-year-old #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Saturday in the third round, which the Serbian has reached for the 12th time.
Djokovic, Federer Lead Group of Australian Open Contenders
Djokovic made the first move to break for a 3-1 lead, but the fluent stroke-making of Tsonga returned. The Frenchman, who missed seven months of last year due to left knee surgery, evoked memories of his peak-performance days in a competitive second set, which was decided in the 11th game. Djokovic converted his fourth break point chance when Tsonga made a backhand error.
Three straight forehand errors from Tsonga handed Djokovic a 3-2 lead in the third set, which proved to be enough for his 17th win in 23 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings (11-6 on hard courts). Djokovic won the first of his 14 Grand Slam championship trophies with victory over Tsonga in the 2008 final at Melbourne Park.