Pumped-up defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a critical scare on Wednesday from harmful American Frances Tiafoe, who pushed him to 4 gruelling units earlier than the world primary prevailed. The Serbian high seed appeared in management after taking the primary set, however lightning-quick Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals two years in the past, refused to go quietly. He bounced again to take a detailed second set earlier than Djokovic dug deep to emerge a 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 winner and proceed his relentless march in direction of a ninth Australian Open title.
“Very robust match. when the solar was on the court docket, it was very heat. Lots of lengthy rallies,” mentioned Djokovic. “An awesome combat from Frances, an amazing match on his half.”
“However it’s not the primary time I have been in that type of scenario, I understand how to deal with the sort of circumstance.”
He’ll subsequent play one other American, both Taylor Fritz or Reilly Opelka.
Djokovic, who dropped solely six video games in his opening spherical conflict, had by no means performed Tiafoe, however rapidly tailored.
On a sizzling day, with ice towels getting used for the primary time on the match, he instantly broke to race right into a 3-0 lead, however some uncharacteristically poor serving allowed the energetic American again within the set.
It was a stumble that rattled Djokovic who rapidly broke once more, pumping his fist within the air as he screamed at his field.
Neither participant gave an inch within the tight second set, with Tiafoe’s mixture of energy and strange photographs showing to place Djokovic off his sport as he got here out on high in a tiebreak.
The Serb moved up a degree within the third set, however so did Tiafoe as they traded blows till too many unforced errors ensured Djokovic took the set.
They went shot-for-shot within the fourth till an excellent backhand gave Djokovic the essential break for 4-3, with a pissed off Tiafoe slapped with a warning for swearing then double-faulting at hand the highest seed the match.
Djokovic, chasing an 18th Slam crown to shut in on the 20 held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, has gained a document eight instances in Melbourne.
It was the scene of his maiden Grand Slam triumph in 2008 and he’s unbeaten on the well-known blue courts, since his shock defeat by South Korea’s Hyeon Chung within the 2018 spherical of 16.
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