Novak Djokovic enjoyed his best evening of tennis Monday night at the Australian Open, hammering Alex De Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Djokovic had no issues with that ailing left hamstring which troubled him in earlier rounds.
“I really wanted to win in straight sets,” Djokovic said. “You obviously don’t know what is going to happen on the court. I thought the first four, five games was close. After breaking serve in the first set, I started feeling more free and more loose to hit through the ball and be more aggressive.
“I thought he was a bit more nervous towards the end of the second and the beginning of the third set. I thought that was my opportunity to capitalize on those chances. Tennis is a very quick and dynamic sport. Things can change in a matter of moments, matter of points. But I kept my focus all the way through and played the best match of the year so far.”
And the hamstring held up.
“I didn’t feel anything today. Today was great,” Djokovic said. “I keep on going. Obviously, I don’t want to celebrate too early. I’m still in the tournament.
“I was feeling very good in the first match. Second match not so great, so I know that things can change really quickly. I don’t take anything for granted.
“I’m really pleased with the way I played, moved, the way I hit the ball. Let’s keep it going.”
Up next for Novak on Wednesday in the quarterfinals will be Andrey Rublev. The Russian won a thriller saved two match points to defeat teen Holger Rune 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6[11-9].
Rublev recovered from down 5-2 in the fifth and in the deciding breaker he was down 5-0. Somehow, Rublev managed to overcome both deficits. In the breaker, Rublev would win six straight points from 7-3 down. But the Dane saved a matchpoint with a scintillating backhand stab pass to stay alive. However, Rublev would be able close it out on a net cord dribbler of all things.
“A rollercoaster is more easier,” said Rublev.
“I was 5-2 down in the fifth set, 6-5 down two match points, then 5-0, 7-2 down in the super tie-break. In my life I’ve never been able to win matches like this.
“Especially to do it in a very special tournament like the Australian Open, to be in the quarterfinals is something I will remember for sure all my life. I have no words, I’m shaking!
Djokovic leads their series 2-1.
“Of course, nobody wants to face Novak. I’m just so happy to win this match. I’ll enjoy this evening and we’ll see what happens next,” Rublev said.
Two Americans also advanced. Tommy Paul reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal dispatching Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
”It was a really physical, tough match,” Paul said. “Any time you play Bautista it’s going to be a war. So I was prepared for that match and I thought I executed really well today. It’s always fun playing on this court, I think it was my third time playing here and it’s always a blast.”
He’ll now face the surprising high-energy Ben Shelton. Just 20 and playing in his second Grand Slam, Shelton outlasted countrywoman JJ Wolf in five sets 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.
Shelton, who saved a match point in his first round, never lost serve once in the five sets holding all 26 times while belting 23 aces among his 64 winners.
After grabbing the fourth set, Shelton got an early break in the fifth and once Wolf sought medical treatment for cramping — he was playing his first 5-setter — Shelton could sense the finish line.
“It has been a dream so far,” said Shelton. “Thank you to everyone who came out today, you guys are the best.
“It was a grueling match. There were a lot of swings throughout the match, going to me and then him. I was focused on being energetic, trusting my fitness and hustling. I was courageous and I think I did a good job of competing at the highest level in the fifth set.”
Shelton’s draw has seen him face just one Top 90 player and that was the No. 67 Wolf. He’ll now face the No. 35 Paul.
Today, Sebastian Korda will try to join either Paul or Shelton in the semifinals. He’ll meet the Karen Khachanov. And Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on young Czech Jiri Lehecka.
TUESDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena – 11:00 AM
1. XD304 CABRERA, Lizette (AUS) /SMITH, John-Patrick (AUS) vs. STEFANI, Luisa (BRA) /MATOS, Rafael (BRA)
Not before: 12:30 PM
RYBAKINA, Elena (KAZ)  vs. OSTAPENKO, Jelena (LAT) 
Not before: 2:00 PM
KHACHANOV, Karen  vs. KORDA, Sebastian (USA) 
PEGULA, Jessica (USA)  vs. AZARENKA, Victoria 
TSITSIPAS, Stefanos (GRE)  vs. LEHECKA, Jiri (CZE)
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