The defending champion Novak Djokovic had to battle against both the rival and an injury in the Australian Open third round, prevailing over Taylor Fritz in five sets. Novak slid at the beginning of the third set and injured his abdomen muscle, requiring the medical timeout and struggling to keep the previous pace.
Taylor won sets three and four, although it wasn't to be for him in the decider. From the fourth set's early stages, Novak regained his strokes, especially in his games, serving well and recovering enough to play on a high level in the final set and oust the American with a double break.
Unsure how severe the injury is, Novak couldn't tell if he would play against Milos Raonic in the fourth round, skipping training sessions and hoping to get better ahead of the next clash. Taking the painkillers, the Serb endured the three-hour match with the Canadian and beat him 7-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the last eight.
Still not at 100%, Novak won the opening set in the tie break and scored three breaks of serve in sets three and four to control the scoreboard and march on. The former world no. 4 Tim Henman praised Djokovic and his tennis in the given circumstances, saying that the third set was crucial.
Djokovic lost serve once from three chances offered to Raonic and seized three breaks in sets three and four that carried him over the top. Novak provided six comfortable holds in the opening set and wasted two break chances before winning the tie break 7-4 after 56 minutes.
Novak Djokovic will compete in the Australian Open quarter-final despite an injury.
Raonic grabbed his only break in the second set's fifth game to move in front. Serving at 5-4, Milos held at 15 to seal the set and extend his chances, hoping for more of the same in the upcoming sets.
Determined to get back on the winning course, Novak produced four powerful holds in set number three and scored a double break for 6-1. Raonic couldn't gain anything on the return in set number four as well, and his serve was in danger already in the third game when Novak earned two break chances.
The Canadian saved them before Djokovic grabbed a break at 4-4 that sent him in front. Serving for the victory at 5-4, Novak sealed the deal with a service winner, advancing into the quarters and setting the Alexander Zverev clash.
"As it is often the case, Novak raised his game when he had to give the answers For me, that third set was going to be critical. Once he went up two sets to one, you felt he was in the driving seat. Novak would be very pleased to finish that off in four sets.
With Raonic's type of game, he has to accept I don't want to be this perfect all-round player, and I've just got to risk because every other tactic hasn't worked. Djokovic was able to find those solutions," Tim Henman said.