Defending champion Novak Djokovic swept past Diego Schwartzman and into an
Australian Open quarter-final with big-serving Milos Raonic Sunday as he zeroes
in on an eighth Melbourne Park title.
The rampant Serbian second seed was on another level to
Schwartzman, the 14th seed, crushing the Argentine 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Rod Laver
Arena to book an 11th appearance in the tournament’s last eight.
Raonic is his next hurdle and the Canadian has also been in
fine touch. He is yet to drop a set, blasting past fellow former world number
three Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
“Milos is one of the tallest, strongest players on tour
and has one of the biggest serves,” said Djokovic, who is into his 46th
Grand Slam quarter-final, second only to Roger Federer’s 57.
“I’ve got to be ready for missiles coming from his side
of the net. One key element will be how well I’m returning.”
The Serb has met 32nd seed Raonic nine times and won them
But the Canadian is back to full fitness after years of
injury struggles and his powerful serve could cause problems. So far he has
served 59 games and won them all.
Asked what he needs to do to beat Djokovic, he replied:
“I think I’m going to have to hit more than 35 aces,” referring
to the number he pumped past 2018 finalist Cilic.
“I think we play quite opposite from each other, and
he’s done a good job in the past neutralising my serve,” he added of the
“”So I have really got to focus on my things well
and be the one dictating.”
The Australian Open is Raonic’s favourite Slam.
He reached the semi-finals in 2016, when he lost to Andy
Murray, and the quarters on three other occasions, including last year.
Coco Gauff’s bid for history at the Australian Open ended in
tears in the last 16 on Sunday as the 15-year-old crashed out in three sets to
fellow American Sofia Kenin.
The 14th seed Kenin recovered from a set down to win
convincingly 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0 and Gauff left the court crying.
Kenin plays Tunisia’s unseeded Ons Jabeur after she defeated
China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam
“I just did the best I can. I just tried to take it
like any other match,” said Kenin, who also had tears in her eyes
“I know she’s (Gauff) playing well, I just tried to
play my game and fight for every point and just not focus on anything
Gauff, the youngest player in the draw, has been one of the
stories of the Australian Open, beating Venus Williams in the first round and
then stunning reigning champion Naomi Osaka in round three.
The supremely talented teenager, who turns 16 in March, was
attempting to become the youngest player to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era,
which began in 1968.
The current record-holder is Martina Hingis, who triumphed
at the 1997 Australian Open at 16 years old and nearly four months.
Gauff was under the cosh immediately against Kenin, the
21-year-old breaking in the first game at Melbourne Arena and comfortably
holding for a swift 2-0 lead.
There was no mistaking who the crowd wanted to win — each
point for Gauff greeted with cheers and screams; there was only polite applause
for Moscow-born Kenin.
The 67th-ranked Gauff recovered to gain parity for
4-4 and they went to the tie-break after Kenin saved set point.
Gauff then stepped it up a gear in the tie-break — aided by
two Kenin double-faults — to take the first set in 58 minutes.