By Britwatch Tennis
- Novak Djokovic def. Gilles Simon 6-3 6-7(1) 6-4 4-6 6-3
- Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams set for quarter-final clash
- Roger Federer dismissed David Goffin 6-2 6-1 6-4
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Defending champion Novak Djokovic hit a staggering 100 unforced errors on his way to a scrappy win and a place in the Australian Open quarter-finals, while Roger Federer made it look easy, and we are headed for another Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova clash.
It was a chastened Djokovic who ruefully admitted that 100 unforced errors was not a record he planned on breaking again any time soon. Always likely to be a tough opponent, but there was no doubt that this would not be on Djokovic’s must-watch videos of all time.
Speaking after the match, he said: “I was obviously pleased to win the match. The last point counts. But in terms of the performance itself, I haven’t done well at all. But, you know, can expect unforced errors when you’re playing Gilles Simon who is one of the best counter-punchers in the tour at the moment and he’s been around for many years. He likes to play long matches. He likes to play long rallies.
“I knew what was expecting me on the court. But I honestly didn’t expect to make this many unforced errors. In terms of a level that I’ve played, it’s the match to forget for me. Again, I won it, so it’s pretty good. When you’re playing that bad and still manage to win — hopefully it’s going to be better next one.”
Meanwhile on the women’s side, last year’s final will be replied a couple of rounds early as defending champion Williams will face Sharapova in the quarter-finals. Sharapova had a battle against Belinda Bencic, winning 7-5 7-5, while Williams powered through Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1. Williams has dominated Sharapova, since losing to the Russian in her breakthrough year where she won Wimbledon (2004) as a teenager.
It was a deeply annoyed Sharapova who came to press after her semi-final loss at Wimbledon last year, declaring we would not see her significantly changing her game, yet little subtle changes have come into her repertoire. Dropshots, a slightly modified serve – can these be the margins that will stop Williams from dictating the score-line once more?
Closing out the day’s play the featured night matches saw plucky Aussie Daria Gavrilova run out of steam against a more wily Carla Suárez Navarro while Agnieszka Radwanska had a lucky escape from Anna-Lena Friedsam who caught the Pole napping, taking the first set off her before an injury and cramp late in the third set saw the German spiral into tears and a plethora of point deductions for ‘unreasonable serving delays’ and even a foot-fault when she could barely push up to serve.
Radwanska said: “To be honest, of course, gives me confidence that I won something that maybe I shouldn’t in the end. But if I have to choose, I prefer two-set matches. 1 hour 15 minutes is perfect. But sometimes it’s not really going your way and you not doing the right things in the right moments, ending like that. But I’m just very happy that I could win the last point.”
As we get to the pointy end of the first week, Roger Federer was the closing act against David Goffin – and it was clear he had no intention of dragging this out, or equaling the 100 unforced errors target of Djokovic!
A quick break of the Belgian’s serve set him up nicely to break once more for the set, albeit taking three set points to do so, but in a tidy 22 minutes.
There is nothing like Swiss precision as he broke at the exact same point in the second set and this time Goffin had no reply. In fact it started to unravel very quickly for the Belgian, broken in the first game of the third set and it looked as though it would take a monumental lapse from Federer to reverse the trend being set.
Even a brief rally from Goffin to hold a few service games was not enough to stop Federer on a mission, as he surmised the night’s performance:
Federer said: “Surprised it went as fast as it did. You know, to win the first two sets within 50 minutes is the best thing that can happen out there, especially with a late start and against a quality player. So I was very happy.
“It was important to keep the momentum going, keep staying aggressive and, you know, trying to get the match done in three. I was able to do that. I was very pleased. There were some great moments in the match which I can take a lot away from. I was happy to, which after the Dimitrov match, which wasn’t so straightforward, wasn’t so easy, I was able to find an extra gear, I guess.”
The last of the quarter-finals places will be set on Monday with the bottom half of both draws starting play at 11am (Midnight, GMT)
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