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Australian Open: Djokovic beats Taylor despite struggling with injury

MELBOURNE (Agencies): Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived an injury scare and battled past American Taylor Fritz to move into the last 16 of the Australian Open.

World number one Djokovic took the opening two sets but was then hampered by a side injury that restricted his movement, although he still recorded a 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 victory.

Djokovic is set to meet 14th seed Milos Raonic in the next round, but said: “I know it’s a tear and I don’t know if I will recover from that in two days. I don’t know if I will step on court.” The Serb, who is chasing a record-extending ninth men’s singles title in Melbourne and a third in a row, added: “This is one of the most special wins in my life.

“It doesn’t matter who I was up against or at what round, to pull this through is something I will remember for ever. “In the third and fourth set I just served and couldn’t do much with the returns. I was just putting in two first serves.

“I just tried to stay in there. I was hoping that whatever is happening is going to feel better and towards the end of the fourth it started to feel better.” Djokovic hobbled between points, clutched his side and received medical treatment, but 23-year-old Fritz, the 27th seed, could not take advantage. Canadian Raonic moved into the fourth round with a win over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

Thiem beats  Kyrgios, Schwartzman stunned

MELBOURNE: Dominic Thiem fought off Nick Kyrgios and a rowdy crowd to overturn a two-set deficit in a thrilling match and reach the Australian Open fourth round.

Austrian third seed Thiem weathered everything home favourite Kyrgios threw at him to prevail 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4. Kyrgios had his opportunities but his shot selection – and occasionally his temper – let him down.

The match finished 50 minutes before Melbourne Park closes its doors to fans as Victoria begins a five-day lockdown. US Open champion Thiem will play Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria for a place in the quarter-finals. This was a fitting way for the crowds, who have been so vocal for Kyrgios, to say goodbye to the tournament for now.

They were treated to the full range of Kyrgios’ brilliant shots and lapses of concentration, as well as a hardy, gutsy performance from Thiem. The two players shook hands and had a warm conversation at the net, before Thiem was given a standing ovation by the fans.

Serena, Osaka, Aryna advance

MELBOURNE (Agencies): Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to beat Anastasia Potapova and reach the Australian Open fourth round.

Tenth seed Williams, bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, came through 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 against the 101st-ranked Russian. However, the American had trailed 5-3 in an error-strewn first set, and she had to save two set points before dialling back in to win. Naomi Osaka also advanced after a cagey match against Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

Third seed Osaka and her opponent struggled for rhythm but it was the Japanese who prevailed 6-3 6-2. Osaka will face two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza next, while Williams plays seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the quarter-finals.

She will face a tough test against big-hitting Belarusian Sabalenka, who beat American Ann Li 6-3 6-1. “I came out of the blocks not like I have been before,” said the 39-year-old, who had dropped only five games in her previous two matches. “But it’s all about surviving and playing better every round.” This is the last day that crowds will be in attendance at Melbourne Park before the state of Victoria enters a five-day lockdown on Saturday.

Up to 30,000 fans had been allowed in each day but the tournament will continue behind closed doors after an outbreak of coronavirus in a hotel. Last year’s finalist Muguruza needed just 58 minutes to beat Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 6-1 6-1.

Spaniard Muguruza has lost just 10 games in her opening three matches. Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei reached the fourth round for the third time in her career with a 6-4 2-6 7-5 victory over Sara Errani of Italy. Hseih, who beat eighth seed Bianca Andreescu in the second round, trailed 5-3 in the decider before winning four successive games to advance.

She will play Czech Marketa Vondrousova next, after the 19th seed beat Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2 6-4. Second seed Simona Halep registered a straightforward 6-1 6-3 victory over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.

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