Australian Open 2024: Djokovic eases into fourth round in 100th match in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic celebrated his 100th match at the Australian Open with a dominant victory over Tomas Martin Etcheverry to reach the fourth round.
Top seed Djokovic showed the best form of his title defence so far to beat the 30th seed 6-3 6-3 7-6 (7-2).
It keeps the 36-year-old on course for a 25th Grand Slam title, which would take him clear of the all-time record held by Australian Margaret Court.
He will play France’s Adrian Mannarino or American 16th seed Ben Shelton next.
Ten-time champion Djokovic seemed distracted at times in his first two matches at Melbourne Park, dropping sets against Dino Prizmic and then Alexei Popyrin. He was also involved in a confrontation with a fan against Popyrin.
Novak Djokovic is chasing a record-extending 11th men’s singles title in Melbourne
But tasked with Argentine Etcheverry, who had impressively brushed aside Andy Murray and Gael Monfils in the previous rounds, the Serb was clinical in securing a 31st win in a row at the Australian Open.
He lost just four points on serve as he dictated from the baseline in the first set, breaking in the sixth game as Etcheverry pushed a backhand long under intense pressure.
A dismissive forehand return winner earned Djokovic an early break in the second set and he took his opponent’s serve again to clinch the set. At one stage the crowd on Rod Laver Arena gasped as he produced a trademark, stunning backhand winner on the stretch.
Etcheverry played his best tennis in the third set and forced a tie-break but Djokovic took the first three points of the breaker to ease through, wrapping up victory without facing a break point in the match.
Djokovic, who has played 108 matches at the French Open, 103 at Wimbledon and 101 at the US Open, is the first man to play 100 matches at all four Grand Slams.
He has won 92 of his 100 matches in Melbourne.
Sinner positions himself as one of Djokovic’s main rivals
Jannik Sinner’s best run at the Australian Open was a quarter-final showing in 2022
Elsewhere, Jannik Sinner showed why he is one of Djokovic’s biggest rivals for the title by thrashing Argentine Sebastian Baez.
The Italian fourth seed raced into the second week in Melbourne with a 6-0 6-1 6-3 win in less than two hours.
He won four titles in 2023 and ended it on a high by leading Italy to its first Davis Cup title in 47 years.
The 22-year-old is bidding to reach a first Grand Slam final but said he was trying to smile and laugh more on the court.
“We know that every match, every tournament is important, but it’s also more important to stay in a good mood always,” he said.
A relaxed Sinner showed his good mood at Margaret Court Arena as he joked with his coaching team moments before securing the win against 26th seed Baez.
“In matches, I used to be really, really serious, which I still am, obviously,” he added.
“But sometimes you have to smile, you have to laugh a little bit because it’s also important and it changes your attitude on the court. I think in a positive way.”
Sinner will face Karen Khachanov next after the Russian 15th seed overcame a third-set wobble to beat Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (7-5).
Also on Friday, Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Frenchman Luca Van Assche to set up a fourth-round meeting with American 12th seed Taylor Fritz.
The Greek seventh seed rushed into a two-set lead but had to fight back from a 2-0 deficit in the third to win 6-3 6-0 6-4.
Meanwhile, Fritz came from a set down to beat Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-2.
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