Novak Djokovic advances, Ben Shelton out in Australian Open

League: Tennis

Posted on: 19 Jan, 2024 at 03:45 PM

Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Following two marathon matches to open his Australian Open title defense, Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina in late-day action Friday in Melbourne.

Djokovic, the top seed and a 10-time champion at the Australian Open, was happy with his performance in the two-hour, 28-minute match.

"Obviously I'm pleased with the way I played throughout the entire match, particularly the first two sets," he said. "He stepped it up, raised his level of tennis probably one or two levels in the third set and we went toe-to-toe. In the tiebreak I guess I just found the right shots, the right serves, and closed it out in straights."

Djokovic has won 31 straight matches in Melbourne. He struck 10 aces and won 86 percent of points on his first serve and didn't face a break point on Friday.

Next up for the Serbian is Adrian Mannarino of France, who is the 20th seed in Australia. The 35-year-old upended 16th-seeded Ben Shelton 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted four hours, 46 minutes.

In earlier rounds, Mannarino defeated former champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland and Spain's Jaume Munar in five sets.

Also headed for a fourth-round showdown are Andrey Rublev of Russia, the fifth seed, and home-country favorite Alex de Minaur, seeded 10th.

Rublev topped No. 29 seed Sebastian Korda, a quarterfinalist in Melbourne in 2023, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-4, and de Minaur ousted Italian Flavio Cobollo 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 thanks to 26 winners and capitalizing on six of 20 break opportunities.

Rublev, who won the tuneup tournament in Hong Kong earlier this month, is 7-0 in 2024.

"I'm happy to start the year really well," he said. "I'm happy to start the new year with a title and to be here in the fourth round is something special for me. We will see what is going to happen next. I don't want to think, I just want to play and that's it."

Playing Rublev undoubtedly will give de Minaur, who has reached the Top 10 in the ranking for the first time, something to think about.

"It feels like we are getting to the tail end of the tournament and the matches are going to be very tough," he said on court after the match. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm playing some great tennis and I've started the year amazingly. Hopefully I can keep it going."

--Field Level Media