Belfast Telegraph

Australian Open: Djokovic enjoys easy first week

Novak Djokovic is hoping a routine first week at the Australian Open will have conserved his energy levels as he looks to retain his title in Melbourne.

The Serbian has dropped just 10 games in advancing through to the fourth round with his latest victory an embarrassingly one-sided 6-0 6-1 6-1 victory over Nicolas Mahut.

Mahut, on his 30th birthday, may have been struggling with knee and hamstring injuries which clearly impaired his movement, but the straightforward manner in which the world number one has won his opening three matches lends little weight to the argument there is great depth in the men's game.

Not that Djokovic was complaining.

With high temperatures set to return to Melbourne next week, the 24-year-old was delighted to have kept plenty in the tank.

He said: "The positive out of this first week is obviously my performance has been great.

"Also another advantage is that I haven't spent that much energy so I'm fresh going into the second week.

"Right now I just want to take one match at a time, focus on the next one, and use this physical freshness that I have."

Asked if there were any disadvantages to having such an easy run, he added: "I don't think so.

"I've had a lot of practice and I'm physically fit."

Andy Murray also progressed with ease after dismissing Michael Llodra in three entertaining sets.

The Frenchman tried to throw Murray off course with his net-rushing style but it simply gave the world number four a target which he frequently beat with some wonderful passing shots.

Llodra tried everything to get back into the contest with numerous through the legs shots but Murray was not to be denied as he cruised through 6-4 6-2 6-0.

Next up for the Scot is Mikhail Kukushkin, who prevailed in an extraordinary match against Gael Monfils.

At a set and two breaks down, Monfils looked as though he was going to quit due to a lower back injury sustained early on. But he battled on and after dropping the second set hit back to take it to a decider.

It reached 5-6 30-15 with Monfils serving when a point was disrupted by a spectator throwing a ball on to the court in what turned out to be a pivotal moment as the 14th seed's concentration deserted him, coughing up two double faults including one on match point.

Earlier, sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued his smooth progress through the draw at the expense of Frederico Gil.

Gil was making history as the first Portuguese man to make the third round at a grand slam event but he never looked like going any further with Tsonga displaying too much power and guile to complete a routine 6-2 6-2 6-2 victory in one hour and 31 minutes.

The Frenchman broke twice in all three sets to set up a last-16 clash with Kei Nishikori, who beat Julien Benneteau 4-6 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/4) 6-3.

"Today I played well and felt good on court," said Tsonga.

"Match after match I play better here and I hope it will continue and I go far in the tournament."

Richard Gasquet powered into the last 16 with a straight-sets defeat of ninth seed Janko Tipsarevic.

The Frenchman was at his stylish best to see off the Serbian 6-3 6-3 6-1.

The 17th seed will play David Ferrer next following the Spaniard's 7-5 6-2 6-1 victory over veteran Argentinian Juan Ignacio Chela.

Lleyton Hewitt rolled back the years to set up a fourth-round clash with Djokovic by beating rising star Milos Raonic in four sets.

The home favourite and former world number one had to come from a set down but eventually prevailed 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.

On his meeting with the Serbian, Hewitt said: "He's the best player in the world at the moment. What he did last year was amazing and it took a great effort from Roger Federer to beat him in the semis at Roland Garros otherwise he could have won the grand slam."

Belfast Telegraph


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