Dazzling Djokovic Sails Into 11th Australian Open Quarter-final
Another day, another statement performance at the Australian Open from Novak Djokovic. The second-seeded Serbian booked his place in the quarter-finals on Sunday with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 6-4 victory over No. 14 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
Although Djokovic's serving stats weren't quite as dominant as his previous two matches, the seven-time champion will still have plenty to be pleased with. He won 75 per cent of his first-serve points (41/55) and converted four of eight break point chances, ripping 38 winners to remain unbeaten (4-0) in his ATP Head2Head series with Schwartzman. Djokovic is through to the quarter-finals at this event for the 11th time.
"It's the fourth round of a Grand Slam and Diego is a quality player. He's had a terrific tournament in the first three rounds. I knew if I gave him time, he could do a lot of damage. He's one of the quickest players on the Tour," Djokovic said in his on-court interview. "I tried to mix it up a bit, hit a few slices and bring him into the net sometimes. It worked well today."
Awaiting Djokovic in the next round is No. 32 seed Milos Raonic of Canada, who scored a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over Marin Cilic. Djokovic holds a perfect 9-0 record against Raonic in their ATP Head2Head rivalry, including a quarter-final victory five years ago in Melbourne.
"A quite different match than the one today. He's one of the tallest and strongest guys physically on the Tour. He has one of the biggest serves. I've got to be ready for missiles coming from his side of the net," Djokovic said. "I played him here and remember it well... One of the key elements will be how well I'm returning and how confident I am on my service games.
"I'm glad to see him healthy and playing at a really good level again. He's a great guy. I've known him for many years and he's a good friend. We speak the same language. It's nice to see him in the quarters."
Little separated Djokovic and Schwartzman in the early stages of the opening set as both players traded comfortable service holds. With Schwartzman serving at 3-4, the second seed stepped up and converted the lone break point of the set by drawing a backhand error from the Argentine. A quick hold in the next game gave Djokovic the early lead.
The World No. 2 continued to build momentum by immediately breaking Schwartzman in the opening game of the second set. Putting Schwartzman on his back foot with deep backhands and then stepping in to crack forehand winners, the pressure on the Argentine resulted in an insurance break two games later when the No. 14 seed missed a routine backhand volley.
Schwartzman fought back valiantly and broke Djokovic at 3-0, ending the Serbian’s streak of consecutive service holds in this event at 35. But the deficit was too much to recover from. Djokovic took a commanding two-sets lead when Schwartzman missed another backhand volley on set point.
Unable to draw errors from Djokovic or impose himself in the baseline rallies, the Argentine began to get frustrated in the closing stages of the match. A loose service game at 2-2 gave the seven-time champion another break as Schwartzman slumped his shoulders in disappointment. Djokovic rode the slight advantage to close out play after two hours and six minutes.