Novak Djokovic overcomes injury to reach Australian Open round of 16
Novak Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets – 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 6-4 – to qualify for the last 16 of the Australian Open, despite a struggling performance from the world number 5 that visibly struggled to move on points during the match.
Djokovic, who is arguably the favorite to win the competition after Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud were knocked out, came into Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, although he seemed to ease those concerns when he broke Dimitrov’s serve in the first game.
But Djokovic retired later in the first set feeling his hamstring and had to take a medical timeout after winning a grueling tiebreak.
After some treatment, Djokovic returned a new man and took advantage of Dimitrov’s loose play to comfortably take the second set.
The Bulgarian had not dropped a single set in the previous two rounds, but he could not keep up with the metronomic Djokovic.
Despite playing well in the first set, Dimitrov was unable to recover after losing.
He was sensational at times, serving 15 aces and playing some great shots, but for every classy shot there was an equally wild one and he ended the game with 50 unforced errors.
If there’s anyone who can punish stupid mistakes, even when injured, it’s the ruthless Djokovic.
It wasn’t a pretty win, but even as he struggled with his fitness, Djokovic’s defense was unwavering and frustrated Dimitrov time and time again.
After an exhausting third set that broke five serves, Djokovic finally closed out the match to win in straight sets and continue his hunt for a 22nd grand slam title.
Djokovic will now face Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the round of 16 and the 23-year-old will have a boisterous home crowd behind him.