Top seed Novak Djokovic has had little trouble since the start of the 2015 Australian Open, as he is yet to drop a single set through three matches. Saturday’s encounter was his most difficult to date, yet even that did not hamper his ability to cruise into the fourth round in Melbourne. The Serb will next come up against 42nd ranked Gilles Muller, whom he has never faced previously on the tour.
Up against a durable Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, Djokovic looked patient and survived an early onslaught from his opponent, but eventually turned the tides and advanced to the fourth round with relative ease. Djokovic won the match 7-6(8), 6-3, 6-4 to close out the match in 2 hours and 21 minute. The world No. 1 hit 43 winners, 11 aces, and won 82% of his first service points in the process.
While many expected John Isner to reach a fourth round meeting with Djokovic, it was Dutchman Gilles Muller who upset the 19th seed to advance in Melbourne. Muller withstood 30 aces from the American, hit 24 of his own, as well as 55 winners and 90% of his first service points to complete his clean straight sets win with a 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-4 scoreline.
“Well, he’s been on the tour for many years,” said Djokovic of his upcoming opponent. “Best junior in the world. He’s got a great serve, lefty. So I think the match tonight will help me in the next one, as well. He has a similar game, except he serves on volleys and he comes to the net. He has a nice slice serve. That’s his favorite. But he struggled a little bit with injuries last couple years, but I think last six months has been playing some of his best tennis. Finals in Sydney. Now fourth round winning against some top players. Winning against Isner in straight sets is never easy. He has done that.
“So he deserves respect. I need to be obviously very alert and hopefully I can return well, which is going to be one of the keys of the match.”
This marks the first time that Djokovic and Muller will cross paths on the professional tour and could make for a surprisingly competitive match-up if Muller produces the same sort of gameplay that helped him defeat Isner. If he remains aggressive and confident on serve, then we may have a fun match to watch on Monday.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets