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Aus Open PIX: Djokovic storms into quarters; Rublev survives scare

Last updated on: January 23, 2023 23:21 IST
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Images from the men's singles fourth round matches on Day 8 of the 2023 Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday.

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his fourth round match against Alex de Minaur at the Australian Open on Monday. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic steamrolled local hope Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 on Monday to ease into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a statement win in his quest for a 10th title at the Grand Slam that has only been threatened by a hamstring issue.

 

Djokovic drew first blood after a breathless start to the match when De Minaur crashed a forehand into the net to allow the fourth seed to go up 4-2 and the Serbian consolidated the break and struck again to claim the first set.

Having never lost at Melbourne Park since the fourth round in 2018 the 35-year-old was in no mood to give De Minaur a sniff of a chance on Rod Laver Arena, as he raced out of the blocks and dominated his opponent with blistering shots on both wings.

Up two sets to love and with his heavily-strapped hamstring cooperating after scares in the last two rounds, Djokovic moved in for the kill by taking the first four games of the third and finished in style to gear up for fifth seed Andrey Rublev next.

Rublev edges wunderkind Rune with lucky net cord

IMAGE: Russia's Andrey Rublev celebrates winning his fourth round match against Holger Rune of Denmark at the 2023 Australian Open on Sunday. Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Andrey Rublev rallied back from the brink to dump Holger Rune out of the Australian Open and book a second quarter-final at Melbourne Park courtesy of a lucky net cord on match point that sealed a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (11-9) cliffhanger on Monday.

Fifth seed Rublev had to do it the hard way, having been 5-2 down in the final set at Rod Laver Arena and needing to save two match points to take contest into a 10-point tiebreak of unrelenting tension.

He slipped 5-0 behind in the breaker but roared back to lead 9-7 before ninth seed Rune saved two match points in a late twist.



It took the net cord to separate them, with Rublev's final return clipping the net and popping over on the third match point, leaving the Dane no chance.

"(Tennis is) not a rollercoaster, it's like they put a gun to your head," Rublev said on court.

"I think a rollercoaster is a lot easier, man."

"I never in my life was able to win matches like this, this was the first time in my life I was able to win a match like this.

Rublev will meet the winner of nine-times champion Novak Djokovic and home favourite Alex de Minaur, who play in the night session.

"No-one wants to face Novak, I'd rather be in any other part of the draw," added Rublev wryly.

Shelton continues dream run

USA's Ben Shelton reacts during his fourth round match against compatriot J.J. Wolf

IMAGE: USA's Ben Shelton reacts during his fourth round match against compatriot J.J. Wolf. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters

American Ben Shelton extended his dream run at the Australian Open by overcoming compatriot J.J. Wolf in a five-set battle on Monday, exceeding his own low expectations he had about his first trip to Melbourne Park.

The 20-year-old Shelton had never travelled outside the United States until this year but he is making the most of his first international trip, having reached the quarter-finals in only his second Grand Slam main draw appearance.

"It's been a dream so far," Shelton said on court after his 6-7(5), 6-2 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 6-2 win on Monday. "It was definitely a gruelling match. I kind of paced myself emotionally and I was able to bring out some of my best tennis.

"Six months ago I wouldn't have made it through this match."

Shelton was ranked 570 last year but has now climbed up to 43 in the world rankings, and conceded his run in Melbourne has surpassed all expectations.

"It's definitely a surprise.  got on the plane with no expectations," Shelton, who will next face compatriot Tommy Paul, told reporters. "I feel great. It's been a pretty special week for me.

"I know that it's very hard to adjust to Australia from the United States just with the jet lag, time change and everything. It being my first time, I knew it would be a struggle.

"So I think it maybe has helped me a little bit kind of not having that expectation or the feeling that I have to perform, but being able to just go out there, be myself and play free. I think that's been a big contribution to my success."

JJ Wolf in action 

IMAGE: JJ Wolf in action. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters

Shelton and Paul, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, join Sebastian Korda in the last eight, ensuring three American men will contest the quarter-finals for the first time since 2000.

In his Grand Slam debut at the US Open in September, Shelton crashed out in the first round and struggled physically in a five-set defeat.

Shelton has already played two five-setters in his four matches in Melbourne so far but feels ready to push further when he takes on Paul.

"I'm in a pretty good place physically," Shelton said.

"In the US Open, I was really struggling. Five sets in the heat, I barely survived. My fitness wasn't near what I needed it to be.

"I've worked really hard these past five or six months to get to where I want to be. I'm still not there.

"But I feel pretty confident in my ability in the upcoming matches that I can go out there and I can last five sets with anybody."

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Source: REUTERS
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