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Djokovic Continues Reign Against Czech; Tipsarevic-Almagro Clash Set

Melbourne, Australia

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic improved to 7-1 against Radek Stepanek.

Top seed and three-time champion Novak Djokovic will play No. 15 seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the Australian Open fourth round. Djokovic leads Wawrinka 11-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Djokovic advanced on Friday after he won his seventh straight meeting against Radek Stepanek, defeating the No. 31 seed 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. The Serbian is through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the seventh year in a row.

When asked if it was his toughest match so far, Djokovic said, “Yes, definitely. I wasn't expecting an easy match coming into the third round and playing a seeded player. He loves the big stage. You saw how much fun he had. I also had a lot of fun playing. It was a very entertaining match.”

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Stepanek admitted, “He was in control of the rallies most of the time on his serve. Novak just proved that he is the best player in the world in the way he moves and he is able to hit passing shots and return serve. It's really outstanding."

Djokovic has won 18 of his past 19 matches dating back to 2012. He triumphed at the China Open in Beijing, Shanghai Rolex Masters and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, with his lone defeat coming in his opening-round match at the BNP Paribas Masters to Sam Querrey. Djokovic is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to lift three consecutive Australian Open crowns.

When asked what you need to do to beat Djokovic, Stepanek said, “I think to beat him, the key is to hold your service games and disrupt his game from the back [of the court]. If you play ordinary tennis like everybody from the back of the court, he's going to get you sooner or later."

Wawrinka proved too strong for American No. 20 seed Sam Querrey in a 7-6(6), 7-5, 6-4 victory on Margaret Court Arena.

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Barely one hour later, Janko Tipsarevic became only the second Serbian (after Djokovic) to reach the Last 16 at all four major championships.

Eighth seed Tipsarevic defeated No. 32 seed Julien Benneteau of France 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in three hours and 29 minutes to set up a fourth round meeting against Spanish No. 10 seed Nicolas Almagro, who fired 18 aces past 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in a 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 6-1 victory. It broke a three-match losing streak against Top 30 opposition.

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Almagro, who is through to the Australian Open fourth round for the fourth straight year, beat Tipsarevic in their only meeting to date at 2012 Roland Garros.

Read ‘Janko’s Transformation’ In DEUCE 

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