Perth: Novak Djokovic shook off pre-match fatigue as he defeated Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4 on Monday to help Serbia beat Italy 2-1 at the Hopman Cup on Monday, with the only scare coming after the match as he signed autographs courtside.
Djokovic arrived in Perth less than 24 hours before he stepped on court, but still had a straight-sets win to add to Ana Ivanovic's earlier 6-0, 6-4 victory over Francesca Schiavone, giving Serbia a win in the group-stage clash of the mixed teams event.
After the match, Djokovic was signing autographs when a crowd barrier collapsed, hitting the Serb on his legs and sending several fans tumbling. Djokovic squatted for a while in discomfort but later took to the court for the mixed doubles, in which Italy won 7-6 (4), 6-4.
He remarked courtside that he was fine after the incident, with more concern about his physical state before the match due to jetlag. "I arrived quite late last night and didn't get long hours of sleep and felt this morning like I'm dream-walking," Djokovic said. "But as the match went on I was managing to get my rhythm. I broke the ice after the first set and felt a little bit better."
A break to lead 2-0 gave him the perfect start but he later struggled to hold for 5-2. In the second set a double-fault gave Djokovic a break to lead 3-2, but he again struggled to maintain his lead and had to fight off a further four break points at 4-3 before completing his victory.
Earlier, Ivanovic faced the challenge of two break points in the opening game and it took her five break points to establish a 2-0 lead, but then she looked aggressive and confident as she swept through the remainder of the first set. Schiavone took 36 minutes to win her first game and hold for 1-1 in the second set, and the Italian then offered a stronger challenge.
"It's been an amazing start (to the season)," Ivanovic said. "That first game was a bit crucial but I managed to hold after saving a few break points and then I really got into the momentum and didn't do too much wrong in that first set.
"The second set got tougher. She started playing better. I still tried to be aggressive and I'm really happy I managed to win today." Ivanovic admitted that she was concerned when Schiavone prevented her serving out the match. "I got a little nervous," Ivanovic said, "but I managed to get my composure back in the break and then played well in that service game of hers."
On Tuesday, The American team of John Isner and Venus Williams will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson of France.