The Adelaide International 1 crowd were treated to a vintage Novak Djokovic fightback on Thursday.
Djokovic surrendered a 2-5 first set lead to French World No 64 Quentin Halys but managed to to dig deep to prevent his opponent taking decisive control of their Round of 16 clash.
For his part Halys appeared to get the yips while serving for the first set at 5-3, he would send down four successive unforced errors as Djokovic broke to love.
Credit must go to the Frenchman though for sticking with it after Djokovic had clawed his way back into the contest.
In the end the Serbian needed a pair of tiebreak wins to claim the match and book a quarter-final meeting with Denis Shapovalov.
The 26-year-old Halys has now lost all 12 of his career ATP Tour matches against top 30 opponents.
Halys’ powerful serve more than kept Djokovic honest though and he was commended by the nine-time Australian Open champion.
“It was a great performance from my opponent today and I want to congratulate him for a great fight. He played like a Top 10 opponent,” Djokovic said. “He was serving big, hitting his spots and on a fast court like this it’s tough to break, so two tie-breaks is a realistic score in today’s match. I’m glad to overcome the challenge.”
Much has been made of Djokovic’s potential semi-final meeting with Daniil Medvedev but he can ill-afford to discount a player of the ability of Shapovalov.
“Denis is one of the most complete players out there. He has a very dynamic style of tennis. He has a big serve, comes to the net, is comfortable playing at the back of a court and he’s a great athlete. I haven’t played him for a while so I’m looking forward to it. Every match from here gets tougher.”
He may have been tested in Adelaide but Djokovic has now won 20 of his last 21 matches, with his most recent loss coming to Holger Rune in an epic Paris Masters final.
Djokovic leads the head to head series against Shapovalov by an imposing 7-0, but the young Canadian has been competitive in their last three meetings on the tour.
Shapovalov though will need to tighten up on his serve if he is to take down a player rated by many as the best returner in the game today and possible ever.
His first serve percentage in the tournament so far is under 60 per cent, and if he gives Djokovic such a sight of his second serve, the contest could be over in a hurry.
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