Novak Djokovic has sent an ominous warning to his Australian Open challengers with a brutal, record-setting straight-sets fourth round win over Adrian Mannarino.
In subjecting Mannarino to a humiliating 6-0 6-0 6-3 defeat, Djokovic seemed almost offended at being consigned to his first day-time appearance at the Open in three years.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Crowd goes wild as Djokovic loses game.
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The 10-times champion and world No.1 had featured in the prime-time night slot on Rod Laver Arena for his previous 15 matches at the Open, but was asked to play second fiddle to great home hope Alex de Minaur on Sunday.
And he wasn’t happy.
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Even at 6-0, 2-0 up, Djokovic fought tooth and nail not to drop a game to the Frenchman, fist-pumping feverishly after saving break point, then celebrating almost as if he’d won the title after holding for a 3-0 advantage.
It was bizarre behaviour, to say the least, yet he later admitted he wanted to give up a game to Mannarino despite the prospect of a 6-0 6-0 6-0 win.
“I really wanted to lose that game in the third set because the tension was building in the stadium,” Djokovic said.
Novak Djokovic joked he wanted to lose a game to Adrian Mannarino. Credit: Getty
In any case it emphasised the super Serb’s insatiable appetite to gobble up Margaret Court’s record and capture an unprecedented 25th grand slam singles crown next Sunday.
Even if he doesn’t, the 36-year-old seems to be setting records every time he steps on court these days.
Sunday’s victory vaulted the top seed into an astonishing 58th grand slam-quarter-final, matching the feat of his long-time contemporary and now retired great Roger Federer.
Despite the crushing win, it wasn’t all smooth going for Djokovic, who coughed and spluttered throughout.
The 24-time major winner said he’d been ill during the first week, but Rod Laver – the legend whose name is on the centre-court arena that Djokovic has made his own – on Saturday posed the question: “Is he having us on?”
Asked about the scheduling, Djokovic joked that he is happy to play in the afternoon if it means he dominates like he did against Mannarino.
But he said there is no secret he prefers playing in the evening.
Djokovic had looked vulnerable in unconvincing wins over Dino Prizmic and Alexei Popyrin before raising his game in a straight-sets third-round disposal of 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
But the GOAT made a point of reminding his rivals he planned on stepping up his level even further during the second week.
That he did in booking a last-eight date for Tuesday with either seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s final, or American world No.12 Taylor Fritz.
– with 7NEWS