Australian Open: Djokovic dominates, Sabalenka in double bagel, Andreeva mental strength

Serbian world No 1 has now won 92 matches out of 100 played at Melbourne Park

Novak Djokovic celebrates after his strtaight-sets victory against Tomas Etcheverryin Round 3 of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2024.
Powered by automated translation

Djokovic makes it 31 on the spin at Melbourne Park

Defending champion Novak Djokovic marked his 100th appearance at the Australian Open with a straigh-sets win over Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Friday.

Djokovic – chasing his 11th title Down Under and 25th Grand Slam crown – made no mistake against the Argentine, sealing a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The world No 1, who has won 92 matches out of 100 played at Melbourne Park, has been struggling with illness and was well short of his best in his first two matches.

But the 36-year-old Serb looked much more like his usual self on his way to beating the 30th seed who had knocked out Andy Murray in the opening round.

It was Djokovic's 31st win in a row in the season's opening Grand Slam and he has not lost a match in the tournament since falling to South Korea's Chung Hyeon in the last 16 in 2018.

“It was a great match, the best performance I've had during this tournament and obviously I'm pleased with the way I played throughout the entire match, particularly the first two sets,” said Djokovic.

Sabalenka and Gauff power into Round 4

Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff – seeded two and four, respectively – coasted into the next round in impressive fashion.

With fellow top 10 seeds Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula, Ons Jabeur, Marketa Vondrousova and Maria Sakkari already out, the duo will fancy their chances of progressing far in Melbourne.

Defending champion Sabalenka smashed 28th seed Lesia Tsurenko 6-0, 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena, taking just 52 minutes to wipe out the Ukrainian.

“Last year Iga [Swiatek] won so many sets 6-0 and this is one of the goals,” said the Belarusian, who now faces unseeded American Amanda Anisimova. “I'm trying to get closer to her.”

Gauff also signalled her intent with a 6-0, 6-2 thrashing of long-time friend Alycia Parks in just over an hour. The US Open champion has unseeded Pole Magdalena Frech next up in Round 4.

Sinner smashes Baez and flashes title credentials

Fourth seed Jannik Sinner flashed his potential title-winning credentials with a straight-sets demolition of Sebastian Baez.

The 22-year-old Italian was in a different class from the Argentine – who was seeded 26th – spending just one hour and 52 minutes on court for the 6-0, 6-1, 6-3 rout.

Sinner is yet to drop a set in his three matches so far, unlike the trio of players ahead of him in the rankings – Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev.

“I do feel confident,” said Sinner, who will face Russian 15th seed Karen Khachanov in Round 4. “I came here with a good off-season, preparation.

“I'm just quite focused and also relaxed on the court at the moment. Let's see how I handle the situation when the score is even or I'm down, how I react. It's going to be interesting to see.”

Teen sensation Andreeva proud of Murray praise

Melbourne Park debutant Mirra Andreeva produced a stunning comeback in the final set to defeat France’s Diane Parry 1-6, 6-1, 7-6.

The 16-year-old Russian trailed 5-1 in the third set and struggled to hold back tears, but refused to buckle, saving a match point before going on to secure a place in Round 4 where she will play Czech ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova or Australian qualifier Storm Hunter.

And her performance caught the eye of men's former world No 1 Murray who praised her mental strength on social media.

Andreeva, who caught the eye in reaching Round 4 at Wimbledon last year as a qualifier, said she was honoured that Murray was taking notice.

“Honestly, I will try to print it out somehow,” she said of Murray's tweet. “I don't know, I will put it in a frame. I will bring it everywhere with me. I will maybe put it on the wall so I can see it every day.”

Tsitsipas stays on course for back-to-back finals

Stefanos Tsitsipas moved a step closer to back-to-back Melbourne finals after easing past unseeded Frenchman Luca Van Assche in straight sets.

The Greek seventh seed, who lost to Djokovic in the title clash last year, defeated Van Assche 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 and takes on American 12th seed Taylor Fritz next.

Tsitsipas beat Fritz when the pair met at the same stage of the Australian Open in 2022 and holds a 3-1 win-loss record over the American.

“I've played him before at the Australian Open. We had a big match,” Tsitsipas said. “These moments are some of the ones that I do remember the best from this particular tournament.

“The intensity that I brought with me at that particular match was impressive and I'm hoping to replicate it and give it my best shot against him.”

Updated: January 19, 2024, 11:34 AM