|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 16-29 January|
|Protection: Commentary daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 Sports activities Further ‘Tennis Breakfast’ stay from Melbourne, with chosen stay textual content commentaries and match experiences on the BBC Sport web site & app|
Novak Djokovic battled via harm to succeed in the Australian Open third spherical on one other day when extra of his anticipated title rivals have been knocked out.
The 35-year-old Serb, going for a record-extending tenth males’s triumph in Melbourne, received 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-0 towards French qualifier Enzo Couacaud.
Djokovic had a medical timeout, seemingly hampered by an present hamstring harm, however got here via.
A day after Rafael Nadal exited, second seed Casper Ruud was additionally crushed.
The Norwegian, who reached two Grand Slam finals final yr, misplaced 6-3 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 to American Jenson Brooksby.
In the identical quarter of the draw, eighth seed Taylor Fritz additionally misplaced 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 to Australian wildcard Alexei Popyrin.
Twelfth seed Alexander Zverev, nonetheless within the early days of his return from a severe ankle harm, was crushed 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-3 6-2 by fortunate loser Michael Mmoh, who was a late call-up to the principle draw after one other participant withdrew and stated he needed to change his flight as a result of he had anticipated to already be out.
Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev suffered no such upset, beating Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 to arrange a third-round assembly with Britain’s Dan Evans.
Djokovic defies ache to e-book third-round berth
Djokovic entered the Rod Laver Enviornment together with his left thigh closely taped nevertheless it was his opponent Couacaud who struggled with harm early on, rolling his proper ankle halfway via the primary set and requiring a medical timeout.
Djokovic cruised via the remainder of the opener however twinges in his hamstring – which was already bothering him earlier than the beginning of the match – slowed him down and allowed Couacaud into the competition. The Serb left the court docket for remedy and returned with contemporary, tighter dressing on his leg.
The 27-year-old Frenchman, making his Australian Open debut in 2023, took benefit and compelled the 21-time Grand Slam champion right into a second-set tie-break as the gang received behind his each shot, a lot to Djokovic’s frustration.
With play defying his rating of 191, Couacaud bounced again from 3-0 down within the tie-break to mark the primary time Djokovic has misplaced a set to a qualifier or fortunate loser in Melbourne since 2009.
However one thing switched in Djokovic’s thoughts at that time, and his relentlessness returned. The fourth seed breezed via the third set in little over half an hour, though confronted one other problem within the fourth set within the type of hecklers within the crowd who he stated have been “drunk out of their thoughts”.
After asking the umpire “what he was going to do about it”, the hecklers have been finally eliminated and Djokovic regained his focus, knocking Couacaud out with a bagel he didn’t deserve.
Djokovic will play his “Balkan brother” Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria within the third spherical, a participant he has crushed on 9 events however not performed since 2019.
“Lots occurred tonight in tonight’s match,” Djokovic stated in his on-court interview.
“Enzo deserves credit score for the battle, he performed some nice tennis, particularly within the second set.
“We each had medical timeouts and struggled a bit of however, however I managed to reply nicely within the third and particularly the fourth.”
Ruud’s anticipate Grand Slam triumph and prime rating goes on
The exit of Ruud, final yr’s French and US Open runner-up, means he should wait for an additional alternative to land a primary Grand Slam title and ended his likelihood to turn out to be the world primary.
The 24-year-old Norwegian was outplayed by world quantity 39 Brooksby, who took management early with two breaks of serve within the opening set and commanded play from the baseline within the second.
Ruud, who later stated he had felt “rigidity and a few slight ache” in his stomach however refused in charge that for his efficiency, saved three match factors within the third earlier than profitable a tie-break to pressure one other set.
However 22-year-old Brooksby regrouped to interrupt early within the fourth, sealing the win when his opponent despatched a backhand lengthy.
“Casper’s a warrior, I knew it might be an awesome battle on the market. I used to be fairly assured with my stage and simply needed to have enjoyable on the market and see what may occur,” Brooksby stated in his on-court interview.
“I used to be actually pleased with my psychological resolve on the market after the third-set battle did not go my technique to flip it round.”
Brooksby will face Tommy Paul within the subsequent spherical after his compatriot beat Spanish thirtieth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in 5 units.
The lads’s draw was already with out final yr’s Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios, who withdrew earlier than the match via harm, leaving Djokovic because the overwhelming favorite, assuming his hamstring holds up.