Novak Djokovic reaches quarter-finals with ruthless victory
Image caption: Djokovic is on course for a record-extending 11th men’s singles title in Melbourne
Top seed Novak Djokovic moved ominously into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a ruthless thrashing of French 20th seed Adrian Mannarino.
Djokovic, chasing a record 25th Grand Slam title, claimed a dominant 6-0 6-0 6-3 win in one hour and 44 minutes.
“The first two sets were the best I have played in a while,” Djokovic said.
The 36-year-old will face 12th seed Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals after the American beat last year’s finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Until Mannarino won the second game of the third set, Djokovic was on course to be the first player to win all three sets without dropping a game at a Grand Slam since 1993 – a feat never achieved at the Australian Open.
When Mannarino did clinch the game, the Rod Laver Arena crowd cheered wildly and the Frenchman broke into a huge smile.
“I really wanted to lose that game because the tension was building up in the stadium,” Djokovic joked afterwards.
“I needed to get that one out of the way so I could refocus on what I needed to do to close out the match. I played great from the first to the last point.”
An 11th title in Melbourne would take Djokovic clear of Margaret Court’s all-time record number of 24 Grand Slam wins.
Djokovic had dropped sets in the first two rounds and said he was struggling with an illness but found form against Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round.
However, he repeatedly came out on top against Mannarino, whose three previous matches in the tournament had all been won over five sets, by forcing long rallies.
“The last couple of days have been really good,” Djokovic said.
“It is going in a positive direction health-wise and tennis-wise so I am really pleased with where I am at the moment.
“All in all, a great performance.”
Up next for Djokovic is Fritz, who beat Greek seventh seed Tsitsipas 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-3 6-3 to reach his first Australian Open quarter-final.
Fritz and Djokovic met in the third round of the 2021 Australian Open, with the Serb winning in five sets.
Djokovic has won all eight of their previous matches, including a straight-set victory at the 2023 US Open.