Novak Djokovic has put the rest of the Australian Open draw back on notice

After struggling a bit through the first two rounds, Djokovic has turned things around in the last two.

Shi Tang/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Just when the rest of men's tennis thought it was safe to go back into the proverbial waters of tournaments, the alpha shark that is Novak Djokovic has reappeared. After struggling with a wrist injury (and Alex de Minaur) at the United Cup and being sick early in the Australian Open, Djokovic looked, well...human. How quickly we forget just how great he can be.

To be fair, Adrian Mannarino, Djokovic's fourth round opponent at the Aussie Open, likely did not forget who he was about to face. The two players had not played since 2018 before this week (which seems a little odd as while Djokovic has maintained his greatness, Mannarino has gotten better with age so one might assume the two players would meet more and later in tournaments). The Frenchman had never beaten the Serb in four previous meetings, though.

Nothing changed in the fourth round except for possibly even a more dominating version of Novak Djokovic. Mannarino did not win a game until the third set as Djokovic took the match 6-0 6-0 6-3. Djokovic decided to play ultra-aggressively and Mannarino had no answer for Djokovic's plan and execution of that plan.

Novak Djokovic getting better the longer the Australian Open goes on

The Serb had 17 aces and won 81 percent of his first serve points. The number of winners was almost flipped between the players as well. Djokovic had 31 winners and just 15 unforced errors, but Mannarino had 12 and 31, respectively. Mannarino finished with just one ace.

The version of Djokovic we have seen in the third and fourth rounds should be the version that makes most players fear playing him. Often in Grand Slams, Djokovic has played better as the tournaments go on on his way to winning the title and the 2024 Australian Open seems no different. Perhaps Carlos Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner will give him issues, but even that is doubtful after the way Djokovic played in the fourth round.

Novak Djokovic will next play Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals. Fritz was able to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets in the fourth round. In eight meetings, Fritz has never beaten Djokovic and Fritz has only won two sets off of Djokovic, both of which came in the same match at the 2021 Australian Open.

Read more from Lob and Smash

manual