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Novak Djokovic overcomes injury to reach Australian Open round of 16

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CNN

Novak Djokovic beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets – 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 6-4 – to advance to the Australian Open last 16, despite a sluggish display from the world No. was visibly struggling to move to points during the game.

Djokovic, who is arguably the favorite to win the competition after the elimination of Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud, came into Saturday’s clash with a hamstring injury, although he appeared to allay those concerns with a break Dimitrov’s serve in the first game.

But Djokovic stopped feeling his hamstrings later in the first set and was forced into a medical time-out after winning a grueling tie-break.

After some treatment, Djokovic fired a new man and took advantage of Dimitrov’s loose play to comfortably take the second set.

The Bulgarian hadn’t dropped a single set in the previous two rounds, but he couldn’t keep up with the metronome Djokovic.

Although he played well in the first set, Dimitrov couldn’t recover after losing it.

He was sensational at times, serving 15 aces and playing terrific shots, but for ever a classy shot there was one equally savage and he finished the game with 50 unforced errors.

If there’s anyone who can punish stupid mistakes, even while carrying an injury, it’s the relentless Djokovic.

It wasn’t a pretty win, but even struggling with fitness, Djokovic’s defense was unwavering and frustrated Dimitrov time and time again.

After an attritional third set in which five serves were broken, Djokovic finally closed out the match to win in straight sets and continue his hunt for a 22nd Grand Slam title.

Djokovic will now face Australian Alex de Minaur in the round of 16 and the 23-year-old will have a raucous crowd behind him.

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