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Australian Open day six: Djokovic wins in three, Sabalenka hits double bagel

Australian Open day six: Djokovic wins in three, Sabalenka hits double bagel
© Reuters
Novak Djokovic beats Tomas Martin Etcheverry in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open, while Aryna Sabalenka hits a double bagel.

Defending men's singles Novak Djokovic earned his first straight-sets win at the third time of asking at the 2024 Australian Open as he eased past Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round.

The Serbian dropped a set in both of his opening encounters with Dino Prizmic and Alexei Popyrin, having been plagued by an illness and a niggling wrist injury in the build-up to the year's opening Grand Slam.

However, Djokovic rediscovered his ruthless groove to sail into round four with a 6-3 6-3 7-6[2] victory in just under two-and-a-half hours, winning 84% of points behind his first serve and not allowing Etcheverry a single break point.

In what was his 100th match at the Australian Open, Djokovic took his second chance to break Etcheverry in the opening set before moving into a 1-0 lead with a love hold, and he needed just one opportunity to draw first blood in the second.

Etcheverry fought courageously and saved two set points in the second, but the Argentine had only delayed the inevitable, although neither man managed to fashion one break point in a tense third set en route to a pivotal tie-breaker.

Aryna Sabalenka reacts at the Australian Open on January 14, 2024© Reuters

Etcheverry's resilience eventually eluded him, as a merciless Djokovic won five of the first six points and required just one match point to march to his 31st successive Melbourne triumph, setting up a fourth-round encounter with Adrian Mannarino in the process.

The French 20th seed denied Djokovic a reunion with US Open semi-final opponent Ben Shelton, sinking the American 7-6[4] 1-6 6-7[2] 6-3 6-4 in a mesmerising contest, thus matching his best-ever run at a major tournament.

Elsewhere in the men's section, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas both advanced without too much difficulty, as the former defeated Sebastian Baez 6-0 6-1 6-3 while Tsitsipas sunk Luca Van Assche 6-3 6-0 6-4.

Andrey Rublev and Alex de Minaur also needed just three sets to overcome Sebastian Korda and Flavio Cobolli respectively, while Taylor Fritz came from a set down to eliminate Fabian Marozsan 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-2.

Meanwhile, reigning women's champion Aryna Sabalenka earned a slice of personal history, recording the first 6-0 6-0 win of her career as she demolished Ukrainian 28th seed Lesia Tsurenko in just 52 minutes.

Mirra Andreeva reacts at the Australian Open on January 17, 2024© Reuters

Coco Gauff could not follow in Sabalenka's double-bagel footsteps, but the American was still a convincing 6-0 6-2 victor over compatriot Alycia Parks, earning herself a fourth-round tie with Magdalena Frech in the process.

Russian protege Mirra Andreeva joined Gauff in an exclusive club on Friday, as the 16-year-old recovered from a slow start to down Diane Parry 1-6 6-1 7-6[5], thus becoming one of only four under-17 women's players to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon and the Australian Open after Gauff, Tatiana Golovin and Martina Hingis.

Standing in Andreeva's way of a place in the quarter-final is Czech ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova, who ended Storm Hunter's dream run by defeating the Australian qualifier 4-6 7-5 6-3 in the day's final encounter.

Andreeva was not the only Russian youngster to make another statement of intent, as 20-year-old Maria Timofeeva followed up her beating of Caroline Wozniacki by eliminating Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-6[7] 6-3.

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Novak Djokovic reacts at the Australian Open on January 14, 2024
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