Becker era begins with victory for champion Djokovic

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Novak Djokovic secured his first win under new head coach Boris Becker as Stefan Edberg made his return to the big stage at the Australian Open.

Defending champion Djokovic made it 22 straight wins at Melbourne Park and 25 in a row since the US Open final last season with a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 victory over Slovakian Lukas Lacko.

Becker’s great 1980s rival Edberg, meanwhile, took part in his first training session with Roger Federer. The Swede, a six-time grand slam champion, has agreed to work with Federer for 10 weeks this season alongside the world No 6’s regular coach Severin Luthi.

Edberg said: “I am doing it because I really think I can make a little difference. If I can make a little difference, maybe that will take him back to where he was.”

Federer began his campaign in the early hours against Australian wild card James Duckworth on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic has made that court his own over the last three years and, although he was far from his best against Lacko, he was still much too good for the world No 96.

Djokovic had a tendency to over-hit his normally rock-solid backhand but, once he won the second set tie-break, it was one-way traffic.

Djokovic hired Becker last month in a move that surprised the tennis world, with the 26-year-old’s long-time coach Marian 
Vajda taking a back seat.

Becker joined Djokovic for the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last month, but the Serbian said: “It was the first official match so, yes, it felt different, but in a positive way.

“We both hope to get the right benefits and the right results right away here in Australia.”

Elsewhere there were comfortable wins for top-10 members David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych.

Third seed Ferrer, who reached the semi-finals last year, defeated Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3 6-4 6-4. Eighth seed Wawrinka did not even have to finish his match after Kazakh opponent Andrey Golubev retired with the Swiss leading 6-4 4-1.

Seventh seed Berdych beat another Kazakh, Alexandr Nedovyesov, 6-3 6-4 6-3.