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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic relieved to get through 'physical battle' with Daniil Medvedev

World No 1 to continue bid for hat-trick of grand slam titles and record seventh at Melbourne Park against Kei Nishikori

Serbia's Novak Djokovic signs autographs after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the fourth round in Melbourne. Aaron Favila / AP Photo
Serbia's Novak Djokovic signs autographs after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the fourth round in Melbourne. Aaron Favila / AP Photo

Novak Djokovic struck back for the old guard at the Australian Open on Monday, soaking up the pressure from an impressive Daniil Medvedev before crushing the young Russian 6-4, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 to reach his 10th quarter-final at Melbourne Park.

The night after Roger Federer was stunned by Greek tyro Stefanos Tsitsipas, there was another sniff of an upset at Rod Laver Arena as Medvedev, 22, rocked the Serb with a furious assault of power hitting.

Yet the Russian wearied in the constant attrition, and top seed Djokovic ended up cruising to victory, having passed easily his biggest test at what had been a sweat-free tournament.

The world No 1 will continue his bid for a hat-trick of grand slam titles and a record seventh at Melbourne Park against eighth seed Kei Nishikori, who earlier squeezed past Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in a five-set epic.

"Since I guess my next opponent is watching, I'm feeling fanstastic, never felt better in my life," Djokovic, 31, joked in his on-court interview with Jim Courier. "I was hoping you were going to say the other guy won, but well done, Kei.

"[It was] definitely a physical battle," the Serb added of his match. "It was difficult go through him ... this kind of match you just have to hang in there."

Federer's exit on Sunday has been widely touted as a changing of the guard and Tsitsipas's victory an inspiration for the Tour's upstarts.

Fifteenth seed Medvedev was certainly up to continue the theme and it took a lunging backhand drop-shot from Djokovic to save a break point in the fifth game.

The rangy Russian fought back from a break down but double-faulted to give up a set point and Djokovic sealed it with a forehand winner down the line.

A red-faced Medvedev trudged to his seat to munch darkly on a banana but did not spend too long chewing on the setback.

He bravely fought off five break points in the second game of the second set and broke back to 4-3 after a breathtaking rally, scrambling back and forth to retrieve drop-shots and lobs before passing the Serb.

It was Djokovic's turn to fume, and he wound up to smash his racket into the court before stopping himself.

There was no shaking the Russian, who edged an epic 42-shot rally and raced to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak. The Serb was rattled, and he bungled a drop-shot to give Medvedev two set points before finding the net to square the high-quality contest.

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Read more:

'Fighter' Serena Williams battles past Simona Halep to reach quarter-finals

Roger Federer denies changing of guard despite Stefanos Tsitsipas defeat

Maria Sharapova refuses to give up grand slam ambitions after making exit

Rafael Nadal wary of 'dangerous' Frances Tiafoe ahead of their huge clash

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Canada’s Milos Raonic celebrates winning his match against Alexander Zverev of Germany in Melbourne on Monday. Kim Kyung-hoon / Reuters
Canada’s Milos Raonic celebrates winning his match against Alexander Zverev of Germany in Melbourne on Monday. Kim Kyung-hoon / Reuters

Djokovic needed cheap points but there were none on offer, and he took a tumble at the net on serve at 2-1, drawing a gasp from the crowd.

But after dusting himself off and saving three break points from 0-40 down, the Serb was revived.

After taking Medvedev down in another marathon rally, Djokovic broke in the fifth game and the Russian suddenly appeared spent.

Nothing fires Djokovic like the smell of blood, and he went after Medvedev mercilessly, roaring through the set and breaking again to lead the final stanza 3-1.

Though dragging his feet between points, Medvedev snuck a break point at 3-2 but saw it disappear with a searing Djokovic forehand.

From there, the Serb kept him at arm's length before closing out the match with a string of clean winners.

In other results, Lucas Pouille overcame Borna Coric 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time. He will face Milos Raonic, who beat Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-1, 7-6.

Naomi Osaka edged past Anastasija Sevastova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarter-final clash with Elina Svitolina, who beat American Madison Keys 6-2, 1-6, 6-1.

Karolina Pliskova thrashed two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-1.

Updated: January 21, 2019 07:52 PM

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