Despite the injury: Novak Djokovic delivers a gala performance at the Australian Open

Despite the injury: Novak Djokovic delivers a gala performance at the Australian Open

Tennis star Novak Djokovic is still in the running for his 22nd Grand Slam tournament victory. The Serb, who suffered a left thigh injury, defeated Australian Alex de Minaur 6: 2.6: 1.6: 2 in the round of 16 of the Australian Open on Monday. The nine-time Melbourne winner presented himself in top form. In the round of eight, the Russian Andrej Rublew, who won a thriller against the Dane Holger Rune 6: 3.3: 6.6: 3.4: 6.7: 6 (11: 9), is waiting for Djokovic.

Local hero De Minaur was only able to counter it in the early stages, after a break to zero to 4: 2 and another game without losing a point for Djokovic to make it 5: 2, number 22 in the tournament was lost. After 35 minutes, the former leader of the rankings used his first set ball.

After that he quickly pulled away again to 4:0 and, this time after 40 minutes, kept the upper hand with 6:1. It continued in this key in the third set, where it was 3-0 after a double break. The 23-year-old was able to fend off a match point at 1: 5, but then Djokovic served after only 2:06 hours.

Video: Djokovic spoke about his children after the match

“I really wanted to win the game quickly, that was my goal because I have to deal with some circumstances that have nothing to do with the pitch,” said Djokovic. He didn’t have any problems with injuries this time. “You didn’t notice anything and I didn’t feel anything,” the Serb was satisfied. He must thank everyone who helped him during this difficult phase. In terms of performance, he was completely satisfied with his performance. “It was the best match I’ve played so far this year,” emphasized Djokovic.

Rublev fended off two match points

For the 92-times ATP tournament champion, in his 13th Melbourne quarter-finals, it will only be his fourth duel with Rublew. In 2021 and 2022 the Serb had the upper hand in the group phase of the ATP Finals, Rublev only in 2022 in the Belgrade final in three sets. Rublew is seeded fifth at Melbourne Park, just behind Djokovic. In the ranking, too, the two players with positions five and six are “neighbors”. Rublev is only fighting for the semi-finals for the second time after 2021 in Melbourne, when he lost to Daniil Medvedev in three sets.

Rublev defeated Rune thanks to a great comeback in the decider. “I don’t think I’ve ever made such a comeback in a match. That’s why the win is so special for me, especially in such a special tournament,” the Russian summed up. The game was not a roller coaster ride. “It’s like someone putting a gun to your head. Riding a roller coaster is easier,” says Rublev with a grin. He was just happy to have won the match. “I’m still shaking.”

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The 25-year-old was already 5-2 behind in the fifth set and, after defending against two match points, saved himself in the match tie-break, where he was quickly 5-1 behind again. Rublew then pulled away to 9:7 before Rune was able to fend off two match balls, also because his opponent carelessly missed a volley chance. In the third possibility, the necessary luck was on the side of the Russian with a net roller. “With the match point, I was sure it would fall back on my half. I can’t say how it rolled over,” said Rublev after the 3:37 hour game.

Paul surprised

The next task for the winner of the quarter-final hit is an unseeded American. Tommy Paul threw the higher rated Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut out of the competition with 6:2.4:6.6:2.7:5. Ben Shelton won a US duel with his compatriot JJ Wolf 6:7(5),6:2,6:7(4),7:6(4),6:2.

For women, Caroline Garcia was eliminated. The fourth-ranked French lost against Magda Linette from Poland 6:7(3),4:6. In the quarter-finals, Linette is awaited by the Czech ex-world number one Karolina Pliskova, who defeated the Chinese Zhang Shuai 6:0.6:4.

The Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka also made it up with a 7:5,6:2 against the Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic. The next hurdle is Croatian Donna Vekic, who ended Linda Fruhvirtova’s successful run with a score of 6:2,1:6,6:3. The 17-year-old Czech would have become the youngest Melbourne quarter-finalist in 25 years.

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