Novak Djokovic is enjoying his return to Australia thanks to a change of heart by the Government to waive the three-year ban which followed his deportation last year prior to the Australian Open because of his visa problems centered on his stand to remain unvaccinated for Covid.
He played like a top 10 opponent. He was serving big, hitting his spots and on a fast court like this it’s tough to break, so two tie-breaks is a realistic score in today’s match. I’m glad to overcome the challenge Novak Djokovic
Unfortunately, the American Government’s position on unvaccinated foreign travellers has not changed but now extended so the Serbian former world No.1 will be prevented from entering the US to play the Master events at Indian Wells and Miami.
That problem was pushed aside as he faced Quentin Halys in his second round at the Adelaide International I where the Frenchman proved a bigger problem on court than he had perhaps expected.
The top seed eventually reached the quarter finals but had to come through two tight tiebreak sets to advance 7-6(3) 7-6(5).
The Serb, playing his second singles match of 2023, was broken in his opening service game and trailed 5-2 in the first set as Halys came out with all guns blazing.
But the current world No.7 showed his mental strength to focus on crucial points as he fought back, breaking Halys to love in the ninth game before dominating the tie-break.
The second set was also tight as Halys hung tough with Djokovic, but the 21-time Grand Slam champion again upped his game in the breaker to progress to the last eight.
“It was a great performance from my opponent today and I want to congratulate him for a great fight,” said Djokovic.
“He played like a top 10 opponent. He was serving big, hitting his spots and on a fast court like this it’s tough to break, so two tie-breaks is a realistic score in today’s match. I’m glad to overcome the challenge.”
Djokovic will next meet Denis Shapovalov, who overcame Roman Safiullin 6-4 6-3.
Britain’s Jack Draper bowed out in the last 16 with a straight-sets defeat to Karen Khachanov.
Last year’s US Open saw Draper leading Khachanov by a break in the third set of their third-round clash, before having to retire from the match with an injury.
However, on this occasion the 21-year-old was unable to register a break against the Russian, who won 6-4 6-2 and will now face compatriot Daniil Medvedev.
Khachanov said: “To be honest I was expecting a very tough match against Jack because we had a good battle in the US Open, which unfortunately finished not in the way I wanted, but he retired in the end of the third set.
“He’s on a good run, he’s a good rising-up player, younger than me. To be honest with you from the beginning until the end, I played a very solid match, very good performance from my side.”
Medvedev wasted little time in cruising past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0 6-3 to book his place in the quarter finals.
“It’s always better to win 6-0 than to win 7-6 saving nine set points and playing one hour, 20 [minutes],” Medvedev said. “But tennis is not as easy, otherwise everyone would be No. 1, but we have only one. So happy with my level today against a strong opponent. Second set was tougher, but managed to close it out at the end and looking forward to my next matches.”
Medvedev remains on a collision course with Novak Djokovic, should both men advance to the semi-finals.
However, the Russian is not ready to look past Khachanov at this stage.
“He’s a very strong opponent, he can beat anybody,” Medvedev said. “He beat Jack today, who is a young guy on the rise, so looking forward to this tough match.”
In other second round action, Sebastian Korda defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-4, Yoshihito Nishioka beat Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-3 and Alexei Popyrin, who ousted the second seed Felix Auger Aliassime in the opening round, outlasted Marcos Giron 4-6 6-4 6-3.