Djokovic wins, delights in Open return

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has enjoyed an adoring reception and shrugged off his lingering hamstring injury to mark his hotly-anticipated Melbourne Park return with an aggressive straight-sets victory

Djokovic gradually cranked up the heat in his 6-3 6-4 6-0 first-round win over Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baenain a late-night clash at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, despite at times appearing bothered by his tight left hamstring.

But the Serbian great was delighted to report after his post-midnight finish both that his injury was improving and that he'd adored the warmth of the crowd's reception.

"So much support. So much love. I mean, I could not ask for a better start of the tournament in terms of support, in terms of how I felt on the court," he said.

Djokovic had heavy strapping on his hamstring, which has troubled him since the Adelaide International 1, and looked proppy at times.

But after admitting to feeling tentative to start with, he then turned up the aggression, eventually ripping 41 winners.

"I was kind of testing my leg a little bit. At the beginning I was a bit tight, mentally as well, to protect something that was bothering me last 10 days.

"So it took me a little bit of time to really get into the match and start moving more freely. The great sign was that the longer the match went, the better I felt, the better I moved.

"The leg is good. It's not ideal, but it's getting there. Today was a really good test."

The crowd helped him too. Djokovic had admitted pre-tournament he was nervous about how he would be received in Melbourne in his first competitive match since last year's deportation dramas.

But eyeing his 10th Melbourne Park crown, he need not have worried about the fans, who erupted when he entered Rod Laver Arena.

"Unbelievable atmosphere, thank you so much for staying this late everybody and also thanks for giving me such a welcoming reception I could only dream of," he told them.

"I really feel very happy that I'm back in Australia and I'm back on the court where I had the biggest success in my career.

"Definitely this court is the most special in my life ... so thanks for your support, I appreciate it."

Djokovic had to work his way through the opening two sets, which he claimed in 42 and 56 minutes respectively, before reeling through the third in just 24 minutes.

"I'm very, very pleased with the way I played in the third set," he said.

"I didn't give him too much of a chance to breathe from back of the court and I served very well.

"Second set was going up and down but credit to him for fighting."

The fourth seed is back at his favoured slam after last year's deportation saga, when he had to leave Australia for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, and is eyeing drawing level with Rafael Nadal on 22 majors.