Novak Djokovic, world number one, resisted his abdominal pain and was able to beat Milos Raonic this Sunday in their round of 16 duel at the Australian Open, a round in which Dominic Thiem and Garbiñe Muguruza said goodbye.
Almost all eyes on this seventh day of the first Grand Slam of the year were directed at Djokovic, whose presence in the match was in doubt due to the injury that was about to make him abandon in the third round.
The Serbian star, defending the Melbourne title, was finally able to take to the track and beat Raonic, the fourteenth player in the world, in four sets, 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 .
In this way, he was able to meet for the quarterfinals, on Tuesday, with the German Alexander Zverev, seventh in the ATP rankings and who defeated the Serbian Dusan Lajovic (27th) by 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) and 6-3.
Djokovic admitted that his preparation for the game this Sunday was very marked by his injury.
“I have not really prepared for this game. I used every hour to try to recover, to be fit to play, “explained the Belgrade player.
«In any other tournament other than the Grand Slam I would have declared myself withdrawn. Here I want to do my best to recover and try to hit the track. Today, before the end of the warm-up, three hours before entering the court, I still did not know if I was going to play or not, “added the man who aspires to a ninth title at the Australian Open.
Djokovic already began to think about the duel against Zverev and revealed that the German also has physical problems.
“We have a bit of the same injury, only in his case it is on the other side. Yesterday (Saturday) we were joking, we told each other that if we had to meet in the quarterfinals we would play without aces, “said Djokovic.
At 33, Djokovic won his 300th Grand Slam match. He is only beaten by one man, Roger Federer, who won 362.
The one who will not be able to be in the quarterfinals is world number three, Dominic Thiem, who had suffered great physical exhaustion in the previous round against Nick Kyrgios and who crashed this Sunday in the round of 16 against the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (21st) by 6 -4, 6-4 and 6-0.
“It was a combination of small physical problems, plus I had a bad day and he is a very good player. I don’t want to say more about physical problems, I don’t want to make excuses. But the truth is that I am not a machine. Sometimes I wish I was, “Thiem said after the loss.
In the next round, the Bulgarian will face the seeded No. 114, Russian Aslan Karatsev, who plays his first Grand Slam, and who beat Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (No. 19) in the round of 16, 3-6, 1 -6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
– Osaka borders on elimination –
In the women’s draw, the Japanese Naomi Osaka, third world player, was on the verge of elimination and raised two match points, before beating the Spanish Garbiñe Muguruza (14th in the WTA ranking and current runner-up in the tournament) by 4- 6, 6-4 and 7-5.
“It is never a good feeling to lose a game that you feel like you could have changed in a second. But I left the court with a good feeling, “Muguruza consoled after the defeat.
Osaka will face the Taiwanese Hsieh Su-Wei (71st) in the quarterfinals, who advanced to this stage of the tournament for the first time in a Grand Slam at the age of 35.
Hsieh Su-Wei beat Czech Marketa Vondrousova (20th) in the round of 16, 6-4, 6-2.
For her part, the Romanian Simona Halep, world number two, came back in the round of 16 to finish beating the young Polish girl Iga Swiatek (17th) 3-6, 6-1 and 6-4.
In the quarterfinals, Halep will star in a stellar duel against Serena Williams, world number 11 and 39, who won 6-4, 2-6 and 6-4 against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (7th).
She therefore goes ahead with her goal of winning a 24th Grand Slam title and reaching the record set in the years 1960-1970 by Australian Margaret Court. AFP (HN)