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Djokovic begins his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title against Verdasco, who beat Rafael Nadal in the first round of the first Grand Slam of the year in 2016. The world number two can retake the top spot in rankings from Sir Andy Murray if he wins the tournament and the Scot is knocked out before the semi-finals.
After a disastrous end to the 2016 season, which saw Djokovic win just one title since May, the Serb started 2017, like he did last year with a win at his first tournament in Doha at the Qatar Open. He will be keen to maintain the momentum and create history at Melbourne Park, but is due to have his work cut out from the first round.
Verdasco came close to beating Djokovic when they met in the semi-final of the 2017 Qatar Open just two weeks back. The Serb had to save as many as five match points in the second set before coming back to beat the Spaniard in three sets. The 2009 semi-finalist is playing in his 13th Australian Open and will be keen to put up a fight and cause one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament.
Djokovic will be favourite going into the match, but the Australian Open has already seen an upset this year with women’s fourth seed Simona Halep falling to unseeded American Shelby Rogers.