Novak Djokovic Downs Enzo Couacaud to Reach Third Round

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Novak Djokovic scrapped his method into the Australian Open third spherical on Thursday to ramp up his bid for a 22nd Grand Slam crown, however a number of males’s seeds crashed out.

Second seed Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman have been all despatched packing on day 4 at Melbourne Park.

With the shock exit on Wednesday of hobbling defending champion Rafael Nadal, the highest two seeds are each now gone.

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With top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz additionally absent by harm, it presents an enormous alternative for Djokovic, who even earlier than that was scorching favorite to win a 10th Melbourne crown.

The 35-year-old Serb required a medical timeout and had heavy strapping on his left thigh in opposition to 191st-ranked qualifier Enzo Couacaud.

He was additionally bothered by some rowdy followers and at one level in the course of the match demanded {that a} drunken fan be thrown out.

But Djokovic recovered his poise and health to beat the Frenchman 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-Zero and faces 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov in spherical three.

“There was quite a bit taking place tonight within the match,” Djokovic, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury, told Rod Laver Arena.

His on-court interview was momentarily paused when a spectator shouted out.

“I love you too, thank you,” stated Djokovic, who has loved a heat return to Melbourne Park following his deportation a yr in the past due to his stance on Covid vaccines.

“I like taking part in night time classes and let’s maintain it going,” he added.

Fellow seeds Andrey Rublev, Dan Evans, Holger Rune and Roberto Bautista Agut all also won in the second round.

But it was a bad day for some of the leading men’s players.

World number three Ruud was always struggling against hard-hitting Jenson Brooksby and the Norwegian went down in four sets to the American, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2.

The 39th-ranked Brooksby, who is on his Australian Open debut, will face compatriot Tommy Paul in round three.

Ruud, who could have become world number one in Melbourne, refused to blame an abdominal injury.

“I gave it my all, but in the fourth set especially it wasn’t enough,” he stated.

Eighth seed Fritz was additionally on his method dwelling after wildcard native hope Alexei Popyrin beat him 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2.

“This is a dream and I don’t need to get up in any respect,” said 113th-ranked Popyrin, who was reduced to tears by the crowd chanting his name.

Zverev, the 12th seed, suffered another setback on his return from serious injury as he lost to 107th-ranked Michael Mmoh.

In the women’s draw, Aryna Sabalenka showed why she is a serious contender for the title by powering into the third round.

Also safely by was France’s fourth seed Caroline Garcia, a 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 winner over former US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.

Belarus’s Sabalenka swept past 51st-ranked American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 27 minutes and faces 26th-seed Elise Mertens.

Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open last year, extended her 2023 unbeaten record to six matches. She won the recent Adelaide International without dropping a set.

It is a marked contrast to the start of last season when her serve completely deserted her, reducing her to tears during an Australian Open warm-up event.

Sabalenka served three aces against Rogers but, tellingly, no double faults. She talked openly about the hard work involved in turning her fortunes around.

“I worked a lot on my serve. You can’t even imagine,” she informed reporters.

“Oh my God, I did, I believe, nearly the whole lot to strive to repair my serve.”

American qualifier Katie Volynets dumped out Russian world number nine Veronika Kudermetova.

The 21-year-old Volynets gained 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena after which paid a heartfelt tribute to her prolonged household in war-ravaged Ukraine.

“It’s really a difficult time. Before, everyone used to be able to move about the country however they want to and go on with their days,” stated Russian-speaking Volynets.

“And now it’s simply, you recognize, day-to-day.

“I actually really feel for them and to have their help by all of that is unimaginable.”

Other seeds beaten in round two were Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who lost to Magda Linette of Poland, and Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 workers and is printed from a syndicated information company feed)

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