Novak Djokovic ignores injury as Australia enters last 16, Andy Murray out | tennis news

Novak Djokovic’s hamstring nearly held up as hot favorite to reach the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday, but Andy Murray’s heroic run has come to an end. Hard-hitting Aryna Sabalenka has already burnished her title credentials as she barreled along with several other women’s seeds. An ailing Djokovic twice suffered heavy strapping to his left hamstring and required treatment before defeating Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena. Serbs will face home hope Alex Di Minor for a place in the quarter-finals as they aim for a record 10th Melbourne Park crown and 22nd Grand Slam title.

“Obviously, I didn’t know how I was going to feel physically, it was going up and down,” Djokovic said. “It was an incredible battle, three sets over three hours. Let’s rest and get ready for the next one.”

Djokovic’s fellow 35-year-old Murray will not join him in the next round, although the Briton’s 4:05am finish finally caught up with him. Former number one Murray was clearly feeling the effects in the second round of his epic five-setter, which started on Thursday but ended early on Friday.

24th-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut won 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 6-4 to face unseeded Tommy Paul of the United States. “I gave everything I had in my last three matches – I’m very proud of that,” Murray said.

“But I’m also disappointed because I put in a lot of work earlier this year and was playing well enough to make a really good run, a deep run.”

Also in the men’s draw, fifth seed Andrey Rublev clashed with Holger Rune — then thanked his beaten opponent Dan Evans for giving him a banana mid-match. The Russian reached the fourth round for the third time after defeating the Briton 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. He will face Kishore Rune of Denmark for a place in the quarterfinals. His friend and 25th seed Evans throws Rublev a banana as he runs out.

“I didn’t ask him, I asked the ball boy, but Danny asked for a banana earlier and he had two so he just said ‘take it,’ and I grabbed it,” Rubelov said. In two All-American matches, Jeffrey Wolfe cruised past Michael Mmoh in three sets and Paul Jensen made equal light of Brooksby.

Evil Sabalenka

Sabalenka is building steam in pursuit of her first Grand Slam title. The Belarusian fifth seed blew past 26th seed Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 to set up a showdown with Olympic champion Belinda Bencic.

Thirtieth seed Karolina Pliskova and 23rd seed Zhang Shuai also went straight sets on day six at Melbourne Park and will meet in the fourth round. Sabalenka tries not to go away.

The Minsk-born 24-year-old teased the Margaret Court Arena crowd for backing Belgium’s Mertens over him, but said he was enjoying the journey to week two. “About dear, that I’m on that wish list… I mean, it’s really good that I’m there,” said the Belarusian, who has yet to drop a set. “But I better focus on myself, on my game, make sure my dream happens.”

Bencic did not drop a set in Melbourne. The Swiss 12th seed beat unseeded Italian Camilla Giorgi 6-2, 7-5. Also in the fourth round was 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, who beat fellow Czech Marketa Vondrosova in three sets. She faced Croatia’s Donna Vecic. “It feels pretty surreal,” Kishore told reporters. “It’s an incredible feeling. I’m so happy and excited to say: ‘Hi second week!'”

French fourth seed Caroline Garcia defeated world number 158 Laura Sigmund 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 after a disastrous first set.

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