Novak Djokovic was again in fine form as he defeated Alex de Minaur in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The world No 5 produced some stunning tennis throughout the match, winning 6-2 6-1 6-2 in just two hours and seven minutes as de Minaur had no answers to Djokovic’s relentless, relentless talent.
It looked like this match might be a tough test for Djokovic after the first four games, but the 21-time Grand Slam champion ran away with the match winning 16 of 19 games in an absurd stretch.
Djokovic will now face No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev for a place in the semifinals.
“I can’t say I’m sorry you didn’t watch the long match,” Djokovic told the crowd in his post-match interview. “I really wanted to win in straight sets. Obviously, you never know what’s going to happen in court. You have to deal with a lot on and off the court.
“The first four or five games were close, one break of serve in the first set. I started to go through more loose and free balls and be more aggressive. I sensed he was a bit too nervous… that was my chance to capitalize.
“Things can change in a few moments, points matter. I played the best match of the year so far… I felt good in the first match, not so great in the second match, so I don’t take anything for granted, but I’m happy with the way I went today. was and the way I hit the ball.”
De Minaur hung on for the opening set for the first four games, but with Djokovic hitting her groundstrokes with relentless depth and power, success seemed only a matter of time.
Djokovic turned up the intensity and soon pulled away from his opponent, taking the first set 6-2 after a run of four straight games.
The Australian crowd did their best to lift De Minaur, giving the home favorite a huge ovation as the players walked out in the second set.
Things didn’t get any easier for De Minaur, though, as Djokovic held serve and then promptly broke the Aussie to extend his winning streak to six matches.
It was the first time these players had faced each other and De Minaur – if he wasn’t already aware – was finding out just how brutal playing against Djokovic on Rod Laver was.
Despite that left hamstring still being heavily strained, Djokovic showed no signs of being physically hampered as the 35-year-old began attending tennis masterclasses.
There are few players in Djokovic’s illustrious career – if any – who have been able to hang with the Serb when he finds this kind of form.
Unforced errors were few and far between with his shots – which seem to be packing a punch more than ever recently – finding their spots with pinpoint accuracy.
With Djokovic leading 4-0 in the second set after a run of eight straight games and De Minaur pressing every sign to try and keep up with her opponent in every rally, the outcome of this match was already felt. Conclusion
De Minaur ended Djokovic’s run of nine straight games after trailing 0-5 in the second set to finally avoid the bagel. That will be little consolation for the 23-year-old, but he deserves a lot of credit for continuing to fight for every point and never letting his intensity drop.
Unfortunately for de Minaur, Djokovic’s intensity showed no signs of slowing down as he raced to a quick 4-0 lead in the third set.
De Minaur continued to grind, and avoided a bagel in the third set to make the score 4-1.
The Australian crowd, recognizing the effort their man was still exerting, roared with approval, louder to win a set rather than just a game. But that only delayed the inevitable as Djokovic quickly closed out the final set 6-2.
Perhaps forcing Djokovic to play three more matches before a 10th Australian Open title seems a futile task, with the Serb the overwhelming favorite given his stunning form so far in Melbourne.
In a post-match interview after coming through a five-set epic against Holger Rooney, Rubelov jokingly lamented that he had to beat Djokovic to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
The rest of the players in the draw likely feel the same way about the prospect of facing Djokovic to win the Australian Open.