Champion Serb overcomes brave challenge from Canadian
Novak Djokovic put aside a third-set wobble, coming back to finish off a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6. 6-0 decision over Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov for a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
The win assures Djokovic of holding onto the No. 1 ATP ranking no matter any further results in Melbourne.
The Serbian winner polished his record against left-handed opponents, now having won his last 18 matches against them.
He was last defeated by lefty Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Roland Garros final.
Djokovic, with six titles at Melbourne Park was leading two sets and a break when the challenger made his move, winning the third set and giving himself a fightback opportunity.
But the experience Djokovic immediately slammed the door, sweeping the final set to escape the upset bid.
“I tried to keep my momentum and weather the storm,” the 14-time Grand Slam winner said, adding that he was not pleased when organisers turned on the stadium lights in full afternoon sun.
Told later that it was done for television purposes, the 31-year-old could barely contain his amusement: “I could see the ball fine,” he said. “It makes no sense to turn on the lights with four hours of daylight left.”
Djokovic said that unforced errors near the end of the third set led to the elongation of the contest.
“He showed his quality and got back into the match,” he said of Shapovalov.
The winner also drew a warning for swearing: “I I misconducted myself verbally. That’s why I got the code violation for. It’s not the first, nor the last time.”
Fourth seed Aexander Zverev shoved aside a rising Aussie, dismissing Alex Bolt 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 155 Bolt was unable to follow up on his upsets of Jack Sock and Gilles Simon this week in the first two rounds.
Zverev sent down an ace for three match point, advancing on the first.
“The key was to take his serve away form him,” Zverev said. I played my game and was able to be aggressive.
“I like to push opponents around when I can,’ added the 21-year-old coached by former great Ivan Lendl. “Everything worked out well today.”
Kei Nishikori finally copped a break after playing five-set matches in his first two rounds, with the Japanese ace defeating Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-6(6), 6-1, 6-2.
The eighth seed added Sousa to a victim’s list this week which has included Ivo Karlovic and Polish qualifier Kamil Majohrzak. Nishikori will be playing in his seventh fourth round in Melbourne.
Milos Raonic needed two hours to go past Pierre-Hugues Herbert as he put out the Frenchman 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(6).
“I’ve been pushed this week. I’ve had stressful moments in matches that I’ve handled quite well,” the Canadian said.
“That gives me some ease going into sort of the challenges further along.
I haven’t had the chance to play that many matches over a long period of time now, so to have that kind of test, to prove well in it, I think it’s pretty good.”
There was a win for Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta over Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Russian Daniil Medvedev achieved a personal best as he moved into the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time through his 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-3 win over David Goffin.
Borna Coric won a Balkan battle, with the Croatian beating Serb Filip Krajinovic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.