Top seed Djokovic powers into Open fourth round

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Novak Djokovic: Eyes on the ball

Novak Djokovic: Eyes on the ball
Novak Djokovic: Eyes on the ball

Top seed Novak Djokovic powered into the fourth round at the Australian Open with a straight sets win over Spain’s tenacious Fernando Verdasco on Saturday.

The Serb world number one beat the 31st seeded Verdasco 7-6 (10/8), 6-3, 6-4 in 2hr 21min and will play Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller for a place in the quarter-final.

Djokovic, who is the favourite for his fifth Australian Open title following Roger Federer’s shock exit in Friday’s third round, made just two service breaks in a tight contest on Rod Laver Arena.

Verdasco, who had beaten Djokovic in four of their previous 10 encounters, failed to get a service break in the Serb’s 16 service games.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion hit 43 winners and showed exquisite touch around the net while serving at a high 73 percent.

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Djokovic’s serving was a feature, winning 82 percent of his first serves.

“I did serve well and that helps when you are playing big servers like Fernando, who put a lot of pressure on your service games, so you have to stay composed and hang tough,” Djokovic said.

“I tried to go more for accuracy and precision and allow myself to have an easy first ball and managed to have a lot of free points, which definitely helped.

“Physically, I feel fit now and I’m always motivated to play well in Australia and this is my most successful Grand Slam.”