Novak Djokovic failed to defend his Australian Open title, falling to en eventual champion Jannik Sinner in the semi-final. However, Novak secured a notable milestone with the quarter-final win over Taylor Fritz, becoming the second player with 700 hard-court ATP wins.
Djokovic joined Roger Federer on the exclusive list, standing 83 triumphs behind his great rival and hoping to pass him in the next couple of years. Novak and Roger are the leaders of the chart, leaving another hard-court giant Andre Agassi on 592 and Rafael Nadal on 518.
With 50 notable hard-court ATP titles by his name, Novak is the most decorated player on the most common tennis surface, extending his legacy in 2023 with two Majors, the ATP Finals and two Masters 1000 crowns! The Serb kicked off the season with 693 hard-court ATP wins, adding the 694th in the first match at the United Cup.
Novak took down Zhizhen Zhang 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 12 minutes, making a winning start to the season. The Serb broke the Chinese once in the opener and terminated the rival's resistance with a double break in the second set.
World no. 1 never faced a break point, keeping the pressure on the other side and sealing the deal in straight sets. Djokovic faced Jiri Lehecka in the second match and earned a 6-1, 6-7, 6-1 victory in two hours and 17 minutes.
Novak struggled with his right wrist, requiring a timeout and dropping the second set. However, he stepped in and played well in the decider to emerge at the top.
Unlike the first match, Djokovic had to work harder in his games, facing five break points and suffering two breaks.
Novak played well on the return, clinching six breaks and dominating sets one and three. Djokovic traveled to Melbourne with 695 hard-court ATP wins following the United Cup loss to Alex de Minaur, struggling with his wrist and gathering dark clouds over his Australian Open campaign.
As it turned out, Novak's wrist got better in the following days, although he still performed below his best at his beloved Major due to a minor virus. Djokovic started his 19th Australian Open campaign against an 18-year-old Croat Dino Prizmic, prevailing 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in four hours.
Novak Djokovic is the second player with 700 hard-court ATP wins.
The young gun pushed the veteran to the limits after the opening set, taking the second and showing his rich talent at Rod Laver Arena. Novak did not like the extended rallies early on, recovering energy in the fourth set and outplaying the young gun.
The Serb lost serve four times and secured eight return games, breaking the Croat's resistance at the beginning of the fourth set. Dino pulled one break back and defended six match points before Novak sealed the deal on the seventh in the tenth game.
Djokovic had to dig deep in the second round as well, ousting Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 for his 697th hard-court ATP win. Like against Prizmic, Novak did not bring his A-game, losing the second set and facing four set points in the tenth game of the third set.
The veteran defended them, clinched a tie break and broke the rival's resistance in the fourth set, moving into the third round.
Djokovic played better in the third round, beating Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 29 minutes. Novak faced no break points, serving well and building the advantage in the opening two sets. The Argentine fought well in the third set, reaching a tie break but propelling the Serb over the top.
Djokovic played his best match of the tournament against Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round, earning a 6-0, 6-0, 6-3 victory for his 699th hard-court ATP win and matching Roger Federer's 58 Major quarter-finals. Mannarino defeated three rivals in five sets before facing Djokovic, losing steam and making a terrible start.
Novak grabbed the opening 13 games, dominating on serve and return and delivering one break in the third set to secure a place in the quarter-final. Djokovic's milestone 700th hard-court ATP win came against Taylor Fritz in the quarter-final, with the Serb ousting the American 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in three hours and 45 minutes.
They played during the day session, and Novak struggled in the opening two sets. They needed two hours and 23 minutes to split them, with the defending champion spraying all 15 break points! Novak stole the opener after 84 minutes, saving two set points in the 12th game and clinching the tie break.
Fritz saved all seven break points in the second set, breaking Djokovic once and leveling the overall score after a grueling battle that could have turned into a five-hour marathon.
Instead, the sun went down and Novak raised his level in sets three and four, breaking Taylor four times and ending the rival's resistance. The Serb could not reach his 11th Australian Open final, suffering a tough loss to Jannik Sinner and ending his campaign in the semi-final.