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Updated January 19th, 2024 at 18:04 IST

Novak Djokovic into the 4th round after beating Etcheverry in his 100th Australian Open match

Novak Djokovic is starting to get into Grand Slam form, winning in straight sets Friday for the first time in the tournament with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over Tomas Martin Etcheverry in his 100th match at the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic during 4th round of Australian Open
Novak Djokovic during 4th round of Australian Open | Image:AP
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Novak Djokovic is starting to get into Grand Slam form, winning in straight sets Friday for the first time in the tournament with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over Tomas Martin Etcheverry in his 100th match at the Australian Open.

The 24-time major winner is 92-8 at Melbourne Park, where he’s won the title 10 times and is on a 31-match winning streak.

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Only Roger Federer (117) and Serena Williams (105) have played more matches at the season's first major.

Djokovic has had health issues and been dealing with a sore right wrist. He lost sets in each of the first two rounds against 18-year-old Croatian qualifier Dino Primzic and Alexei Popyrin, when he challenged a heckler to “say that to my face.”

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Against 24-year-old Etcheverry, he didn't even face a breakpoint.

Not that the 30th-seeded Etcheverry didn't challenge him, really going for his ground strokes and chasing down drop shots — to the point where he had to veer off court to avoid the net in the third set and nearly crashed into the umpire's chair.

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Djokovic, as he got closer to victory, started to put his index finger to his ear after hitting winners, bringing more support and noise from the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

After closing with a pair of aces to move into the fourth round here for the 16th time, his celebration was calm.

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“It was a great match,” Djokovic said. "The best performance I had during this tournament. I’m pleased with he way I played, particularly the first two sets.

“He raised his level in the third set (and) we went toe-to-toe.”

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Djokovic will play either No. 16 Ben Shelton or No. 20 Adrian Mannarino, who were playing a third-round night match on Kia Arena. Djokovic went on court when they were in the first set, and was finished while the Shelton-Mannarino match was still going.

Djokovic beat Shelton in the U.S. Open semifinals one match before capturing his record 24th Grand Slam singles title.

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Comments attributed to him in the French media earlier in the week indicated Djokovic mocked Shelton’s “Hang up the phone!” celebration gesture after that win in retaliation to some unsporting provocation.

Shelton didn't want to discuss that after his earlier rounds.

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Potential quarterfinalists in that section are 2023 Australian runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Luca Van Assche 6-3, 6-0, 6-4, and No. 12 Taylor Fritz, who held off Fabian Morozsan 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

No. 4 Jannik Sinner is in hot form in the bottom of this half of the draw, advancing to the round of 16 without losing a set after a 6-0, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sebastian Baez. He next faces 15th-seeded Karen Khachanov, who beat Tomas Machac 6-4, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5).

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In another night match, local hope Alex de Minaur continued his run with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. win over Flavio Cobolli.

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Published January 19th, 2024 at 18:04 IST

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