Web Stories Thursday, February 29

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic marked a rare daytime appearance at the Australian Open with a dominant victory over Adrian Mannarino on Sunday (Jan 21) as the 10-time champion flirted with a “triple bagel” before sealing a 6-0, 6-0, 6-3 win to reach the quarter-finals.

Djokovic, handed an early session slot at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2021, said earlier in the week he had been battling a viral affection and the world number one was coughing and appeared to be breathing heavily at times during the match.

The Serb’s health issues had no impact on his play, however, and with the roof at Rod Laver Arena closed due to rain he powered to a 32nd straight match victory at the tournament and a 58th Grand Slam quarter-final, equalling the all-time record of Swiss maestro Roger Federer.

“The way I played today, I don’t mind playing in the day to be honest,” said Djokovic, who is chasing a 25th Grand Slam to go past Margaret Court.

“It’s no secret I like to play at 7pm but it was not too bad today at all.”

Tricky left-hander Mannarino can pose problems for the best of players by working the angles and the world number 19 pushed Djokovic hard in the opening game of the contest but still found himself down a set in only 33 minutes.

Djokovic let out a roar after breaking early in the second set, and delivered another body blow in the third game when he held serve after six deuces.

Two sets down and still not on the scoreboard, Mannarino finally won a game early in the third to draw level at 1-1, avoiding a rare “triple bagel” – 6-0 6-0 6-0 – and smiled as the crowd cheered.

Djokovic soon closed out victory, however, and said it had been one of his best performances.

“Yeah, after the first two sets, one of the best I’ve played in a while,” he said. “I really wanted to lose that game in the third set because the tension was building up in the stadium.

“I just needed to get that one out of the way so I could refocus on what I need to do to close out the match. I played great from the first to the last point.”

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