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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 23, 2023

 
Novak Djokovic

The nine-time Australian Open champion was ruthless in his trouncing of top Aussie Alex de Minaur.

Photo Source: Getty

Novak Djokovic may have struggled through his first three matches, the nagging hamstring injury not allowing him to hit fifth gear as he cautiously maneuvered to victory.

Tennis Express

That was certainly not the case on Monday as the 21-time Grand Slam champion ran roughshod over Australia's Alex de Minaur, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in a jaw-dropping two hours and six minutes.

Djokovic never faced a break point against as he clocked 26 winners and converted six of 12 break point opportunities to race past the normally disruptive No.22 seed in startling fashion.

De Minaur has made a name for himself with his blazing speed and the inspired tennis he plays when he wears the Aussie green and gold or plays on home soil, but Djokovic, with dizzying pace and precision, took him off the rails early and never let the man who is affectionately known as the "the demon" to sink his teeth into the match.

The tape on the left hamstring was still prominent, but gone were the grimaces and the temporary hobbles that we saw in Djokovic's first three matches of the tournament. After Monday's contest Djokovic told on-court interviewer Jim Courier that he felt as good as he had all tournament.


“I didn’t feel anything today,” he said with a smile. “Today was the best day so far, of the tournament, and hopefully it stays that way.”

With each victory in Melbourne Djokovic’s Australian Open legend grows a bit more rarefied. He notched his 25th consecutive tournament victory, tying his own personal record and leaving him one behind the all-time record for consecutive Australian Open men’s singles victory, set by Andre Agassi, who won 26 straight from 2000 to 2004.

The 35-year-old has not lost in Australia since his defeat at the hands of Hyeon Chung in the round of 16 in 2018 – he stretched his winning streak on Australian soil to 38 matches, and improved to 9-0 on the season as he reached his 54th Grand Slam quarterfinal, which is four shy of Roger Federer’s all-time record of 58.

As Djokovic continues his march to history, in Melbourne and at the Grand Slams, there is the feeling that the only thing that can stop Djokovic is Father Time and the onset of the types of injuries that are currently plaguing Rafael Nadal.

At the beginning of the tournament, many wondered if Djokovic’s hamstring issue might sabotage his chances in Melbourne, but after Monday night’s scintillating performance it appears that those fears were unfounded as Djokovic has proven once again that he can thrive in pain just as well as he thrives under pressure.

 

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