14 Jan 2013

Djokovic begins quest for third straight Australian Open

5:34 am on 14 January 2013

The world tennis number one Novak Djokovic takes his first steps in bidding to become the first man in the professional era to win three successive Australian Open titles when the tournament begins in Melbourne today.

The 31 year old Serb plays France's Paul-Henri Mathieu in the final match of the day session on Rod Laver Arena.

Mathieu was ranked as high as 12th in the world five years ago but needed surgery on his left knee and missed all of 2011.

He entered 2012 as an unranked player and finished 59th in the world, advancing more than 1,500 places in the rankings and Djokovic says there's no underestimating him.

The women's second seed Maria Sharapova will open the tournament's proceedings on centre court against fellow Russian Olga Puchkova.

The world number five David Ferrer, fresh off his record-equalling New Zealand Open title on Saturday, plays Belgium's Olivier Rochus.