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Novak Djokovic equals record with 58th grand slam quarter-final

The world number one dropped just three games in a 6-0 6-0 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino.

Eleanor Crooks
Sunday 21 January 2024 13:20 GMT
Novak Djokovic dropped just three games against Adrian Mannarino (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP)
Novak Djokovic dropped just three games against Adrian Mannarino (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP) (AP)

Novak Djokovic equalled Roger Federer’s record by reaching a 58th grand slam quarter-final in style at the Australian Open.

It appeared the world number one might do so by becoming the first player to claim a ‘triple bagel’ victory at the tournament when he won the first 13 games against Adrian Mannarino.

The Frenchman looked hugely relieved when he finally got on the board in the second game of the third set but Djokovic, playing in his 73rd major tournament, eased to a 6-0 6-0 6-3 victory.

Having started the tournament battling illness and surviving two long matches, Djokovic is now looking in ominous form, although he still became riled by the crowd at times.

“The best sets I’ve played in a while,” the Serbian said afterwards. “I really wanted to lose that game in the third set because the tension was building up so much in the stadium. I needed to get that out of the way and refocus on what I needed to do to finish the match.

“I served very well. In the moments when I needed to come up with the first serve, I did. All in all, great performance.

“The last couple of days has been really good so it’s going in a positive direction health wise, tennis wise, so I’m really happy.”

Next Djokovic faces 12th seed Taylor Fritz, who claimed a landmark victory over last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Fritz went into the match with a 0-11 record against top-10 players at grand slams, but came away with a 7-6 (3) 5-7 6-3 6-3 triumph to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time.

He will need to achieve another first if he is to go further having lost all eight previous meetings with Djokovic, including a painful five-set defeat in the third round three years ago when the Serbian suffered an abdominal injury mid-match.

Fritz was thrilled with his performance, saying: “I’m really happy. I think start to finish I played really well. Especially I’m super happy about the way I finished it. The last three games of the match I really, really turned it on, almost like I was in a trance and everything.

“I just felt good. 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 taking on Djokovic again, he added: “I think that I have a lot more level to bring than I’ve previously brought against him. Hopefully I can play another match like today.”

Cheered on by Melbourne’s large Greek population, Tsitsipas has enjoyed the best results of his career at the Australian Open but he failed to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2020.

The 25-year-old will take time to digest the loss, saying: “It’s painful, and the moments of glory are not that many. There’s just way more moments in your career that are painful and tough to deal with, suffering and all that stuff, than moments of glory and success and opening champagne bottles.”

Fourth seed Jannik Sinner continues to look Djokovic’s biggest threat in the top half, and he is yet to drop a set after battling to a 6-4 7-5 6-3 victory over last year’s semi-finalist Karen Khachanov.

In the last eight, the Italian will take on fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who ended hopes of a home winner for another year by defeating 10th seed Alex De Minaur.

Cheered on by girlfriend Katie Boulter, De Minaur took a two-sets-to-one lead, but Rublev, who holds a 0-9 record in slam quarter-finals, hit back to win 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-0.

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