‘Novak Djokovic plays in 7th or 8th gear,’ says Tim Henman


After struggling with a hamstring injury, Novak Djokovic finally played at his best in the Australian Open fourth round. Novak took down Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and six minutes for his 13th Australian Open quarter-final. Tim Henman was impressed by Djokovic’s performance, praising his shotmaking abilities and his seventh and eighth gear. The Briton labels the Serb as the top favorite in the rest of the tournament, backing him to chase his tenth Australian Open crown. Playing without left leg issues, Djokovic was the only player on the court, doing everything right and keeping constant pressure on the other side. De Minaur was far from that pace, struggling to impose his strokes and move the rival away from his comfort zone. Novak took half of the return points and turned them into six breaks from 12 opportunities.

The Serb fired 26 winners and 27 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and building the advantage in the shortest and more extended rallies. Djokovic made a strong start and dropped five points in his games in the opener. He grabbed his first break at love at 3-2 and delivered another at 5-2 to close the opener in 35 minutes. Novak pushed even harder on the return in the second set, breaking the rival twice to move 5-0 up and closer to a bagel. The Serb rattled off nine straight games before the Aussie held in game six to avoid a disaster.

Novak Djokovic scored a dominant victory over Alex de Minaur at Rod Laver Arena.

Novak fired a backhand crosscourt winner in the next one for 6-2, 6-1 in swift 75 minutes, marching toward the finish line. Eager to seal the deal as soon as possible, Djokovic raced into a 4-0 lead in the third set against the powerless opponent. Alex avoided a bagel with a hold after deuce in game five and served to stay in the match at 1-5. Novak created a match point with a volley winner, and Alex saved it with a powerful serve. The Aussie fired another to bring the game home and reduce the deficit. Djokovic served for the victory at 5-2 and held to sail into the last eight and remain on the title course.

“For me, it was a statement of performance and victory. We have seen in both the men’s and women’s singles there have been so many upsets. The top two seeds have gone out for the first time in the Open era, and Novak is the clear favorite. There have been questioning marks, mainly around his leg and his physicality. However, to see him go out against de Minaur in front of his home crowd and destroy him – it was not through lack of effort; de Minaur tried from the first ball to the last, but Djokovic was just simply too good. Novak must be the favorite ahead of the quarter-final matches. Most people talk about five or six gears, but Djokovic is looking at seven or eight because he takes the ball so early. To play against de Minaur, one of the fastest guys out there – even though he may not be the biggest hitter – you have to earn your points. However, it was like a training session in how Novak executed his groundstrokes. He will take huge confidence going into the quarter-final,” Tim Henman said.

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