Defending champion Novak Djokovic has cruised into the last 16 of the Australian Open after dominating 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Friday night.
The 10-time champion, who had surprisingly dropped sets in his first and second-round matches, needed just under two and a half hours to wrap up the 6-3 6-3 7-6 (7-2) victory at Rod Laver Arena.
The only time Djokovic ran into trouble was in the third set when he was given a time violation for taking too long to serve.
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The Serbian was clearly frustrated with the call and it didn’t sit well with Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who was commentating the match for Eurosport.
“Not necessary, it’s ridiculous, just ridiculousness,” he said.
“It’s like they get bored and they just want to say something instead of the score … ridiculous.”
Djokovic is safely through to the fourth round. Credit: AAP
Kyrgios earlier in the week declared Djokovic “is in the conversation for greatest athlete ever with what he’s achieving.”
The 36-year-old was playing his 100th match at Melbourne Park and looked back to his best after a shaky start to the tournament.
Djokovic becomes the third player in Open history to reach the century mark, behind old foe Roger Federer (117 matches) and American legend Serena Williams (105).
The king of Melbourne Park described Friday’s performance as the best of his tournament so far and was in a reflective mood when asked what motivated him during his younger years.
“I’ve been blessed to go through a very interesting life journey,” Djokovic said.
“Coming from Serbia during the 90s wasn’t easy for my family, and my parents had to endure a lot of adversity economically and in every sense in order for me to live my dream.”
Etcheverry was far from disgraced but failed to land a blow on Djokovic all night after downing veterans Andy Murray and Gael Monfils to make the third round.
The Serb showed off his generational agility and touch early, losing a grand total of four points on serve to take the first set.
Djokovic broke quickly to take a 2-1 lead in the second but wasn’t without a few outbursts, gesturing at his box and drawing a wry smile from coach Goran Ivanisevic.
Keen for an early night, Djokovic produced an inch-perfect drop shot in his final service game to keep the lifting Argentine at bay, calling on his years of experience to close out the tiebreak and settle the match in a little less than two-and-a-half hours.
After stretching his Open winning streak to 31, the 24-time major champion will face either American Ben Shelton or France’s Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round.
– With AAP