The Australian Open was only three rounds old, and only one Major champion was left in the men's singles draw. A nine-time winner Novak Djokovic advanced into the last 16 alongside Roberto Bautista Agut and 14 players born in 1995 or after.
Thus, only one Major champion left in the fourth round for the seventh time in the Open era, with Djokovic standing in three of those after the US Open in 2020 and 2021. When we speak about the Australian Open, John Newcombe was the only Major champion in the fourth round in 1973 and 1974, and we had to wait for almost 50 years to see that again!
Novak came to Melbourne with a hamstring injury earned a few weeks earlier in Adelaide. The Serb defeated Roberto Carballes Baena in the first round and struggled in the second set against Enzo Couacaud.
Novak Djokovic was the only Major champion left in Melbourne from R4.
The Frenchman claimed it in the tie break, and the Serb required a medical timeout on his troubled leg. Djokovic stormed over his opponent in sets three and four to emerge at the top and preserve energy for the upcoming duels.
Novak needed all of it in the third round against Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian had a chance to clinch the opener, with the Serb struggling with an injury big time. However, Novak brought the set home and stayed focused in the second and third to prevail and survive a formidable rival.
Without knowing what to expect, Djokovic entered the court against Alex de Minaur and wished for the best. As it turned out, he did not feel any issues with his leg and destroyed the rival in three comfortable sets. Djokovic had the upper hand on serve and return and left de Minaur far behind, eager to score the most dominant victory possible.
With a boost and momentum, Novak produced another super fine performance against Andrey Rublev in the quarter-final. A nine-time champion delivered a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory in two hours and three minutes for a place in the last four.
Novak made a convincing start and never looked back. He claimed the opening two sets in no time and controlled the scoreboard in the third to emerge at the top. Djokovic is yet to lose a match after reaching the last four in Melbourne, and the remaining three rivals will have to produce career-best tennis to beat him.