Djokovic hits stride in history-making run

WORLD number one Novak Djokovic is hitting his straps at Melbourne Park, after breezing through to his 58th Grand Slam quarter final yesterday. The Serb needed less than two hours to dismantle French 20th seed Adrian Mannarino 6-0, 6-0, 6-3, as he continues to chase records.

Having won the first two sets to nil, Djokovic was chasing the Australian Open’s only ever triple-bagel, and the first since 1993. Though, Mannarino managed to get on the board in the third set to spoil the party. It hardly quashed Djokovic’s momentum en route to an emphatic straight sets victory.

“The first two sets [were some] of the best sets I’ve played in a while,” Djokovic said post-match.

“I really wanted to lose that game in the third set because the tension was building up so much in the stadium. I just needed to get that one out of the way so I can refocus on what I need to do to close out the match.”

The 10-time AO champion was a monster on his serve, sending down 17 aces and winning 81 per cent of points on his first serve. Djokovic’s 70 per cent first serve success rate was also a personal best for the tournament, backed up by 31 winners in a match were he ran through his opponent.

“I served very well in the moments when I needed to come up with a first serve … all in all, a great performance,” he said. “I prepared myself very well and executed perfectly.”

Chasing a record 25th Grand Slam title, having just equalled Roger Federer‘s record of 58 quarter final appearances, Djokovic maintains that “the fire is still burning” as he continues to topple records.

“That’s what allowed me to be where I am and achieve the things that I have achieved,” he said. “Winning majors, breaking records and being at the top of the game is something that is always an objective and a goal.”

Djokovic will next face American Taylor Fritz, who defeated 2023 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets on John Cain Arena. The 12th seed hit a whopping 50 winners and was clutch in the closing stages, playing with freedom and confidence amid a flow state.

“The last three games of the match I really, really turned it on, almost like (I) was in a trance and everything,” Fritz said. “I felt like I knew exactly what shot to hit, the right decision to make on every ball. It’s great. It’s been a while since I’ve had that feeling, so it gives me a lot of confidence.”

On the same side of the draw, Jannik Sinner dispatched of 15th seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in just over two-and-a-half hours. The Italian will take on Andrey Rublev in the quarters, who eliminated home favourite Alex de Minaur in a five-set epic, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Rublev rallied from two sets to one down to break Aussie hearts at Rod Laver Arena, but faces stiff competition in Sinner who is the only remaining men’s player yet to have dropped a set in the tournament.

Today’s action sees French wildcard Arthur Cazaux take on ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz, with the winner to take on either Daniil Medvedev or streaking Portuguese Nuno Borges. Second seed Carlos Alcaraz carries on his campaign against Miomir Kecmanovic, while Alexander Zverev takes on Cameron Norrie.

2024 Australian Open, Day 8

N. Djokovic (1) def. A. Mannarino (20) 6-0, 6-0, 6-3
A. Rublev (5) def. A. de Minaur (10) 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0
J. Sinner (4) def. K. Khachanov (15) 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
T. Fritz (12) def. S. Tsitsipas (7) 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3

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