Adelaide : Novak Djokovic faced a stern test by Frenchman Quentin Halys as he battled into the Adelaide International 1 quarterfinals with a 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win on Thursday.
Djokovic will next play Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who registered a comfortable win over Roman Safiullin 6-4, 6-3, the second straight qualifier he has subdued following his first-round win over Australian Rinky Hijikata.
“It was a great performance from my opponent today. I want to congratulate him for great quality and a great fight,” Adelaide International quoted Djokovic as saying. “Tough luck but he played like a top-10 player today no doubt.
“As far as my game goes, I feel good on the court. I didn’t have such a great start; I lost my serve early. He was serving really well, fast, big serves, hitting his spots in the box very well.
“Just difficult to play in this kind of court that is really fast. It kind of favours the server. If you’re serving well, it’s tough to break the serve of a big server like him, so two tiebreaks were probably the most realistic score of today’s match.
Just glad to overcome the tough challenge.” Playing his second singles match of 2023, the Serb was trailing 5-2 in the first set as world No.64 Halys broke the top seed in the opening game.
But the world No. 7 fought back at the crunch point in time to force the tiebreak. The second set also witnessed a close fight as Halys hung tough with Djokovic, but the 21-time Grand Slam champion upped his game in the tie-breaker to progress to the last eight.
The 35-year-old is back on Australian soil for the first time since his visa was withdrawn last year and he was deported on the eve of the Australian Open over his Covid vaccination status.