MELBOURNE: At the Australian Open on Saturday, Novak Djokovic was once more put to test physically due to earlier hamstring ailment, but he managed to maintain his chances of capturing a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic appeared to be in pain the entire match against Grigor Dimitrov due to the hamstring ailment that has bothered him since Adelaide. The Serbian, though persevered and defeated the 27th seed 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-4 to go to the fourth round.
In a close match, the former World No 1 fought valiantly to win the first set, saving three set opportunities before converting his fifth set point with a diving forehand volley. After taking the set, the 35-year-old struggled to his feet and requested a medical timeout as an alarmed Goran Ivanisevic (his coach) looked on.
Despite his concerns about his hamstring, Djokovic maintained his composure and focused on his game, playing superbly to win the second and third sets.
At 4-1 in the third set, the fourth seed, who had 28 winners and 22 unforced errors, was given another medical timeout. However, Djokovic went back to the court and was able to complete the match by winning a number of arduous rallies in his last service game. He will be up against Australian Alex de Minaur in the next round.
Djokovic’s three-hour and seven-minute victory gave him a 10-1 advantage against Dimitrov in their head-to-head series. The 35-year-old is vying for a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam championship this week and, if successful, will retake the top spot in the ATP Rankings.
Andy Murray pushed his body to its limits to defeat Thanasi Kokkinakis and Matteo Berrettini in five-set marathons during the course of his first two matches at the Australian Open but could not replicate the performance as he suffered a defeat against Roberto Bautista Agut to crash out of the Australian Open on Saturday.
The Spaniard defeated the five-time Australian Open finalist, Murray 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round on Saturday.
Murray lost what he thought would be his final match in 2019, and the two faced off at Margaret Court Arena in a heartbreaking contest.
Four years later, in the same venue, Bautista Agut won after three hours and 29 minutes of thrilling action. (ANI)