Djokovic, Simone Halep advance in Aus Open

Melbourne: Australian Open champion  Novak Djokovic came through a tough examination of his fitness as the top seed beat Canadian powerhouse Milos Raonic  7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals.

Djokovic, who injured a side muscle during a five-set win over Taylor Fritz on Friday and suggested he might not be able to continue, showed hints of discomfort on the way to becoming only the second player to reach 300 Grand Slam match wins.

Fourteenth seed Raonic had never previously taken a set off  Djokovic in three previous Grand Slam meetings so when he snatched the second set a surprise looked possible.

Halep exacted revenge on French Open champion Iga Swiatek with a comeback three-set victory on Sunday, setting up a blockbuster quarter-final with Serena Williams at the Australian Open. The world number two was thrashed by the 19-year-old at Roland Garros, winning just three games, but turned the tide 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes at a crowd-less Rod Laver Arena. “I knew she would hit strong, but after the first set I tried to make her run and she started to miss,” said Halep, who hit 19 winners.

Halep now faces 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who she beat in the 2019 Wimbledon final. Third seed Dominic Thiem slumped out of the Australian Open  in lacklustre fashion on Sunday, complaining of undisclosed physical issues after being thrashed 6-4 6-4 6-0 in the fourth round by Grigor Dimitrov.

The US Open champion, who came back from two sets down to beat  Nick Kyrgios in a third round battle on Friday night, looked out of sorts from the beginning of the contest and made an uncharacteristic 41 unforced errors.

A combination of some little physical issues, plus a real bad day, plus the fact that he’s a great player … a result like that can happen, Thiem said.