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Novak Djokovic rides milestone win into quarterfinals

Oct 11, 2020; Paris, France; Novak Djokovic (SRB) reacts during his match against Rafael Nadal (ESP) on day 15 at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic picked up a historic 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Milos Raonic of Canada to advance to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open on Sunday in Melbourne.

It was the milestone 300th Grand Slam match victory for Djokovic (300-45), the two-time defending champion. Only Roger Federer (362-59) has more match wins at the Grand Slam level.

The Serbian, who has won eight times in Melbourne, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the 12th time, improving to 79-8 all-time in the tournament.

Djokovic noted an abdominal muscle injury hampering him in his previous match and said the injury had affected his preparation.

“I had no preparation for this match,” Djokovic said. “I used every hour I had to recover since the Taylor match. My physio and those of the ATP and Australian Open gave me their best support to get on the court. I have definitely been fitter in the past and I will continue to take each day one at a time.”

Raonic had 26 aces in the losing effort as he fell to 0-12 against Djokovic for his career.

Djokovic faces another tough test in the quarterfinals, where he’ll meet No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany. Zverev advanced by beating No. 23 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

“(Zverev) has the weapons, a big serve and moves well for his height,” noted Djokovic. “We played an exhausting match at the ATP Cup recently and I won’t expect anything less when we meet in the quarterfinals.”

In other action, No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, last year’s runner-up, stumbled out of the tournament after a listless 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 loss to No. 18 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

“I think a combination of things, some little physical issues, plus a real bad day, plus the fact that he’s a great player,” Thiem said of his performance. “If he’s on, he’s super tough to play, especially in faster conditions than now, and I really wish that he can make a great breakthrough at a Grand Slam. He would definitely deserve it.”

Dimitrov next faces Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who rallied after dropping the first two sets to stun No. 20 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. This is the first Grand Slam appearance for Karatsev, 27, who is playing in only his 17th tour-level match.

“It was really tough in the beginning to play with him,” said Karatsev of the three hour, 25 minute match. “He’s a really good player and he’s playing really fast. It took me two sets to find a way how to play.”

Before dropping the first two sets to Auger-Aliassime, Karatsev had won each of his first three matches in straight sets.

–Field Level Media