By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Novak Djokovic’s quest for a record-extending 25th Grand Slam championship title is still alive after booking a third-round ticket in the ongoing 2024 Australian Open.
The Serbian living legend took down Alexei Popyrin of Australia in four sets- 6.3, 4.6, 7.6, 6.3- last January 17, 2024, during the second round of the prestigious Grand Slam tournament.
Djokovic immediately jumped to a hot start after breaking Popyrin’s early service possessions to take a commanding lead.
After holding his last service possession, Djokovic cruised to a 1-0 lead but Popyrin responded with a huge offensive snowball in the second set.
Popyrin only needed a single break to pull off the equalizer, stunning Djokovic in the last crucial stretch after saving three match points for a 1-1 tie.
Just when the Australian started to gain his baseline rhythm, the more experienced Djokovic was wise to shift gears and showcased his bag of tricks by making Popyrin work for every shot.
From his slice drop shots to his insane lob mastery, Djokovic was able to take a 2-1 lead after neutralizing Popyrin’s forehand bombs.
His wizardry continued in the fourth and final set as he completely negated Popyrin’s baseline strength and bullied him in the net.
After almost three hours of grueling tennis action, Djokovic netted 124 total points won and didn’t commit a single double fault error.
Despite Popyrin’s advantage in the service department when he unleashed 17 aces compared to Djokovic’s 11, the Serbian still topped the winning percentage on the first service with 82%.
With the win, Djokovic will now square off against Tomas Martin Etcheverry from Argentina in the third round of the men’s singles category.