Novak Djokovic looked dead and buried after the second set with Milos Raonic but the World No. 1 has bounced back for an unbelievable four set win to move into the quarterfinals.
Djokovic revealed after the match that he hadn’t trained between his match with Taylor Fritz, where he injured his abdominals, believing he had suffered a tear and leaving the world unsure whether he could play.
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And he proved he could, romping to a 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory over the 14th seed Raonic to set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal match up with Alexander Zverev.
But it’s a performance that hasn’t quietened any of the doubts over his injury with social media packed with baffled tennis fans.
Djokovic appeared to be moving well until late in the first set when he began reaching for his abdominals and appeared to be in discomfort as he claimed the first set.
It looked much worse in the second as Djokovic’s movement was limited with Raonic bouncing back with a break to take a rare set off the Serbian superstar.
As Raonic broke at 3-2 in the second set Aussie tennis star John Millman said “this is absolute panic stations”.
Raonic has never beaten Djokovic with the record out to 12 matches between the pair, while the Canadian has taken just four sets in their battles.
But in the third set, Djokovic blew Raonic away, taking the final five games of the set to win the third set 6-1.
While it went on serve in the fourth until the ninth game of the set, Djokovic powered over the line to snatch the result.
The World No. 1 said he “used every single hour that I had since I finished the last match against Taylor to recover, to try to put myself in a position where I have a possibility to compete”.
“If it’s any other tournament than a Grand Slam, I would retire, withdraw from the event, that’s for sure,” he said post-match. “But because it’s a grand slam and, you know, I want to give my best alongside with my team to try to recover and trying to get on the court, obviously I didn’t know before I finished my warm-up today, three hours before I entered the court against Milos here whether I’m going to play or not.
“When it warmed up, it was fine. Obviously during the match today it was kind of on and off. It’s not ideal, but I cannot complain, you know. I won the match against a great player and, you know, hopefully it’s going to be even better in two days. So let’s talk about the next match.”
Djokovic also told Eurosport that he got through the match with painkillers.
“If I wasn’t in the condition, I’d pull out. There was a big cloud of doubt whether I was going to play or not… I’m not really sure whether it suited me that we didn’t have long exchanges – it probably did,” he said.
“Right now, in my head, it’s all about recovery. I just really want to try and feel better and better. I’m under pain killers for more than 48 hours, very strong ones. I don’t know the damage that’s been done. There’s always more damage.”
But after some incredible play throughout the game, the world is still puzzled about the injury.
In conclusion, I have no idea what to make of Djokovic’s injury.
— D’Arcy Maine (@darcymaine_espn) February 14, 2021
Djokovic’s powers of recovery certainly look remarkable but the conspiracy theorists still haven’t answered the question of why he would have any incentive to feign an injury with a comfortable two-set lead against Taylor Fritz. No player wants to break his own momentum
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 14, 2021
Thereâs no way Djokovic plays that kind of tennis with a torn oblique muscle. #AusOpen
— Gerald Butts ð¨ð¦ ð·ðð§¼ð¤ (@gmbutts) February 14, 2021
Earlier, US Open champion Dominic Thiem has been completely outclassed by Bulgarian rival Grigor Dimitrov in a major upset on Rod Laver Arena.
Naomi Osaka’s showdown with red-hot Spaniard Garbine Muguruza was promoted as the match of the day and it delivered in dramatic fashion.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams qualified for the quarter-finals after a closely-contested clash with Aryna Sabalenka on Rod Laver Arena.
Ash Barty is the only remaining Aussie remaining in the singles competition, while Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis lost their doubles clash on Margaret Court Arena.
Follow all the news and updates below.
Novak Djokovic looked dead and buried in the second set but has romped back in the third set to take the lead.
After the first two games went on serve, Djokovic bounced back, rattling off five straight games to take the third set 6-1.
It was an amazing turn around and Djokovic is looking a million bucks – well maybe half a million bucks.
Novak Djokovic is in a battle with Milos Raonic as his injury appears to get worse as the game goes on with the Canadian taking the second set 6-4.
As Raonic broke at 3-2 in the second set – the fourth set he’d ever taken off Djokovic in 11 losses to the Serbian – Aussie tennis star John Millman said “this is absolute panic stations”.
Djokovic had been furious at his box early in the second set with Raonic holding steady to even the match up after two sets.
Novak Djokovic has yelled at his box in a surprising outburst after he took the lead in the match against Raonic.
Novak took a 7-6 2-1 lead on serve in the second but Raonic needed some medical attention for a foot injury.
It was surprising the Canadian was the one needing attention after the commentators believe Djokovic was starting to feel it and was “struggling physically”.
Djokovic had screamed at his box twice, yelling in Serbian, with John Millman saying “My Serbian is not strong but I have a feeling potentially, call me out if I am wrong, it could have been an obscenity.”
Novak Djokovic started well in his clash with Milos Raonic but midway through the first set, he began grimacing.
But with an 11-0 record against Raonic and a domination in tiebreaks, the Serbian superstar showed he lives in the Canadian’s head.
Raonic couldn’t land a first serve in the tiebreak, with Djokovic winning the first set 7-6.
It’s not taken long for Novak Djokovic to get cranky with the photographers drawing his ire early against Milos Raonic.
As the world debates his injury as he took the court against the Canadian, Djokovic singled out the snappers at one end of the stadium, a place they had been all day with fans not allowed to get in the stadium.
“Why are the photographers standing behind? It’s not their place,” he told the umpire.
“They’re supposed to be out there or on the side.”
Commentator Todd Woodbridge didn’t feel like it was too much of an issue, as “They’ve been sitting there all day for every match that’s been here since the start of today and probably yesterday as well”.
“You hear Novak saying ‘they’re not allowed to sit there, they’ve got to sit on the side of the court’ but given the circumstances, they can be in any part of the arena to take a photograph today,” Woodbridge added.
Polish prodigy Iga Swiatek secured the opening set against World No. 2 Simona Halep in their fourth round clash on Rod Laver Arena.
The opening six games remained on serve, with Halep failing to convert two break points in the seventh.
In a stunning shift in momentum, the teenager broke Halep’s serve immediately after to take control of the opening set.
Swiatek ultimately secured the first set, leaving Halep with a mountain to climb at the other end.
Iga Swiatek is an absolute machine. Might actually be a robot. Once she held at 4-3 there she absolutely worked Halep #AusOpen
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) February 14, 2021
Halep finally managed to break serve early in the second set to immediately take a 3-0 lead.
The Romanian dominated the remainder of the second set, sending the contest to a decisive third set.
That momentum continued into the final set, with Halep immediately breaking serve to go 2-0 up.
Swiatek fought back to put the set back on serve soon after, but Halep showed her experience by immediately mustering a break to love.
The No. 2 seed finished the job to qualify for the quarter-finals, where she will come up against American icon Serena Williams.
Halep vs Swiatek live score: 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
In major upset, Austrian star Dominic Thiem has been knocked out of the Australian Open by No. 18 seed Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets on Rod Laver Arena.
World No. 3 Thiem was completely outclassed by his Bulgarian rival, going down 6-4 6-4 6-0 in Melbourne Park.
The 27-year-old Austrian won just six points in a horrifically one-sided third set, where he looked a shadow of his regular self.
Thiem was absolutely gassed in the final set, with some pundits theorising he was mentally and physically exhausted after Friday’s marathon encounter with Nick Kyrgios.
Although he was able to fight back from two sets down against the Aussie, Thiem couldn’t replicate the feat on Sunday.
Thiem won the US Open last year and also qualified for the Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic in 2020.
Dimitrov will face Russian cult hero Aslan Karatsev in Tuesday’s quarter-final.
Dominic Thiem was horrible. I’m a fan, I’m hurt.
— Bee (@Bridget_Otoo) February 14, 2021
I cannot believe Dominic Thiem got routed like that. I liked Grigor to make it a match, but nothing like that #AusOpen
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) February 14, 2021
Australian duo Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have been knocked out of the doubles competition by the number four seeded pairing of Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot.
The hometown heroes were outclassed 6-3 6-4 on Margaret Court Arena, ending their brief but entertaining campaign.
Aslan Karatsev — remember the name.
The world No. 114 has defeated Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-set marathon on Sunday afternoon to qualify for the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Karatsev lost the opening two sets on Margaret Court Arena, but pulled off a remarkable comeback to secure the unlikely 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory in Melbourne Park.
The 27-year-old has become the first male qualifier to make the Australian Open quarter-finals since Croatia’s Goran Ivanisevic achieved the rare feat in 1989.
American superstar Serena Williams has qualified for the quarter-final after securing a thrilling 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.
Williams claimed a tightly-contested opening set on Rod Laver Arena with hardly any spectators in attendance.
The American icon broke serve late in the first set, seemingly on track for a comfortable win.
But Sabalenka quickly took control of the second, breaking serve twice to take a 4-1 lead in Melbourne.
The thrilling contest went to a decisive third set, with momentum undeniably in Sabalenka’s favour.
Williams broke serve early in the final set as Sabalenka’s frustrations grew, at one stage smashing her racquet on the court.
Sabalenka racquet smash technique needs a lot of work. 3/10
— Ben McKay (@benmackey) February 14, 2021
— Jared Cruz-Aedo (@jaredcruzaedo) February 14, 2021
The 22-year-old was repeatedly screaming out in frustration, while Williams was for the most part calm and collected.
But the Belarus star pulled off a stunning recovery to put the set back on serve soon after.
A tiebreak seemed inevitable, but the 39-year-old Williams added one final twist by breaking serve to take the third set 6-4.
Sabalenka ultimately crumbled when under pressure, a cluster of unforced errors sealing her fate.
“I am happy to get through that one,” Williams said after the win. “I knew it wasn’t go to be easy.
“I lost the second but it was so close, it could have gone either way.”
Serena Williams 👏🐐
Emotion. Passion. Determination. Focus. Intensity. It had it all. Great match. #AusOpen
— Elise Menaker (@EliseMenaker) February 14, 2021