Tim Henman finds an apt word to describe Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open masterclass

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic pushed again at the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic pushed again at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic turned on the style to book his latest appearance in a Grand Slam quarter-final and Tim Henman found an apt word to describe is performance.

Djokovic equalled Roger Federer’s record by reaching a 58th major quarter-final in style at the Australian Open after a crushing win against France’s Adrian Mannarino.

The world No 1 threatened to win the fourth round match without losing a game as he won the first two sets 6-0 6-0, but he allowed Mannarino to take a few games as he eased to a 6-0 6-0 6-3 victory.

Having started the tournament battling illness and surviving two long matches, Djokovic is now looking in ominous form, although he still became riled by the crowd at times.

“The best sets I’ve played in a while,” the Serbian said afterwards.

“I really wanted to lose that game in the third set because the tension was building up so much in the stadium. I needed to get that out of the way and refocus on what I needed to do to finish the match.

“I served very well. In the moments when I needed to come up with the first serve, I did. All in all, great performance.

“The last couple of days has been really good so it’s going in a positive direction health-wise, tennis-wise, so I’m really happy.”

It was a convincing performance from Djokovic, with former British No 1 Tim Henman finding an apt word to describe the one-sided victory.

“It was brutal,” Henman told discovery+ and Eurosport.

“The first game, Mannarino had a couple of opportunities, and then 13 games later he’s sitting down having lost all 13 so that’s a rough day at the office.

“He’s been playing well, beat Ben Shelton in the round before, but it just goes to show the gulf in class of Djokovic at the top of the game.”

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Henman’s commentary partner Nick Kyrgios suggested Mannarino had no answer to Djokovic’s class.

“I haven’t given my ‘best effort’ at times, but with my serve it allows me to get into games pretty easy,” said the Aussie.

“Mannarino didn’t play that bad at all, he’s obviously played some pretty gruelling five-set matches, he’s nearly 36 years old, he’s probably really tired and goes up against the greatest test in men’s tennis.

“Look, I think all the questions have been answered with Novak. The first couple of rounds he’s been struggling, now he’s beaten players like Mannarino… I think Novak for me is now the clear favourite for the AO.”

Djokovic will face Taylor Fritz next, with the Serbian insisting his immaculate 8-0 winning record against the American does not mean he can take anything for granted in his last eight clash.

“Even though I know the guys, I still have to do my homework because everyone is trying to get better,” declared Djokovic.

“Especially the guys at the top, they want to move the bar at least for one or two per cent, or try different things, maybe, yeah, disguise their flaws in the game and improve them so they’re not as exposed in the certain shots. That’s why.

“I mean, it’s my passion and my love, but it’s also my work and my profession. Of course, along with my coach and team I have to do things on a daily basis to make myself prepared for every opponent.

“As far as it comes to me watching tennis for fun, I do like to see it. For example, the other day I enjoyed watching Rybakina and Blinkova. I mean, it was incredible, one of the most exciting super tiebreaks ever that we have seen.

“Of course, I watch the other men’s matches, the big rivals, how they’re doing, how they’re playing. Of course, we all have an eye on each other. It’s no secret.

“In the evenings when you are kind of winding down, you switch on the TV and you watch some exciting matches. Of course, there’s less and less matches, and you know exactly when they’re played. Of course, you want to tune in and check out a few games or a set or whatever.

“It just depends. Of course, I have a closer look to my section or part of the draw, or my next opponent, than I would maybe the other side.”

Watch every moment of the Australian Open live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport