Australian Open: Novak Djokovic elevates his level, reaches last 16

Novak Djokovic toppled Tomas Martin Etcheverry in straight sets at Rod Laver Arena

by Jovica Ilic
Australian Open: Novak Djokovic elevates his level, reaches last 16
© Phil Walter / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The defending champion Novak Djokovic is through into the last 16 at the Australian Open for the 16th time from 19 trips to Melbourne. Novak faced Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round at Rod Laver Arena and scored a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 triumph in two hours and 29 minutes.

The Serb celebrated his 92nd Australian Open victory and the 31st in a row since 2019. Also, Djokovic notched his 364th Major victory and 78th at Rod Laver Arena, leaving Serena Williams on 77. Djokovic played better than in the previous matches, moving around the court well and constructing reliable serving.

Novak outplayed his rival behind the first and second serve, facing no break points and stealing the rival's serve three times. Etcheverry fought well in the third set, reaching a tie break before sending Djokovic over the top in straight sets.

Djokovic hit a similar number of winners and unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely. He had the upper hand in the shortest, mid-range and most advanced exchanges to seal the deal in style, Novak hit the zone behind the initial shot right from the start, dropping four points in his games and keeping the pressure on Tomas Martin.

Djokovic grabbed one break and controlled the pace of the set. Etcheverry stayed in touch in the early stages, producing two fine holds against his idol and locking the result at 2-2. Novak fired a service winner in the fifth game and pushed strong on the return in the next one.

Novak Djokovic will play in the Australian Open round of 16 for the 16th time.

Tomas Martin squandered a game point at 2-3 with a forehand error and lost serve after placing a backhand long. World no. 1 attacked with a volley in game seven, forcing the rival's mistake and forging a 5-2 advantage.

Tomas Martin served to stay in the set in game eight and offered Novak a set point. The Argentine denied it with a forced error and held to reduce the deficit and prolong the action. Djokovic left that chance behind and held at love in game nine after drawing Etcheverry's mistake, securing the opener 6-3 in 44 minutes.

Novak dropped six points in his games in the second set, avoiding break points and keeping the pressure on his opponent. He clinched two breaks to forge a massive two sets to love advantage and move closer to the finish line.

Djokovic held at 15 in game two and fired a forehand down the line return winner on Etcheverry's second serve in the next one to secure a break and open a 3-1 gap.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Phil Walter / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak served well in the following three service games, moving 5-3 in front with a forehand down the line winner.

Tomas Martin served to stay in the set in game nine, and Novak drew his mistake with a crafty drop shot for three set points. Djokovic converted the third after Etcheverry's forehand mistake, moving 6-3, 6-3 in front after an hour and 22 minutes.

Both players served well in the first half of the second set. The Argentine held at 30 for 2-2, and the Serb grabbed the next one with a winner at the net. Novak held after deuce for 4-3, and Tomas Martin stayed in touch with a fine serving in game eight.

Djokovic moved 5-4 in front with a hold at 30, forcing Etcheverry to serve to stay in the match. Tomas Martin held his nerves and delivered a comfortable hold for 5-5 and more action. The 11th game saw the fourth consecutive hold at 30, with Novak opening a 6-5 lead and forcing his rival to serve to stay in the match for the second time.

Eager to fight, the Argentine held at 15 and introduced his second tie break against the Serb. Novak grabbed an early mini-break for 2-0 and landed a deep return in the next one to increase the advantage. Djokovic netted a routine forehand in the fourth point before moving 4-1 in front with a service winner.

Novak passed Tomas Martin at the net in the sixth point with a great backhand, climbing 5-1 up and closer to the finish line. Tomas Martin fired an ace for 2-5 before Novak earned four match points with a powerful serve. Djokovic converted the first with an ace, sealing the deal and moving into the last 16.

Australian Open Novak Djokovic Tomas Martin Etcheverry