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Djokovic Dismisses Istomin, Sets Fognini Clash

Melbourne, Australia

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is through to a fourth-round meeting with Fabio Fognini.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic extended his unbeaten run to 27 matches on Friday night as he reached the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic was nigh on flawless until the closing stages, faltering as he served for the match at 5-4 in the third set. The Belgrade native righted the ship immediately, though, with another break. At the second time of asking, he served out the match to 30.

"I've done really well," said Djokovic. "Denis is a very tough opponent. He's a great quality player. He has tested a lot of top players on different surfaces because he's very talented and he can hit the ball really well. 

"Things got tense towards the end of the match. I made some double faults. This is what happens. I could have easily got into a tie-break and then it's very even, very unpredictable who is going to win the third. I didn't want to drop the third set, obviously, so I was very focused to get the job done in straight sets."

The Serb has not lost a match since the US Open final, when he was beaten by Rafael Nadal. Since then, he has lifted trophies in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. 

Djokovic is chasing his fourth successive Australian Open title and fifth overall, having won his first Grand Slam championship at Melbourne Park in 2008 (d. Tsonga). He has not lost a match at the first major of the year since the 2010 quarter-finals, when he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five thrilling sets.

Djokovic goes on to face Italian No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sam Querrey. Indeed, Fognini had previously won just one main draw match in six visits to Melbourne Park, but will need to overturn a 0-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Djokovic if he is to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final.

"I have a great relationship with him, a real friend relationship for more than 10 years," said Djokovic of Fognini. "Once we get on the court, of course we're both professionals, we want to win. He's been playing some really good tennis. Lately he's been performing really well on hard court. Today he beat Querrey, who is a hard-court specialist, big serve, in form, and Fabio won. I don't take anything easy. I try to do as best as possible."

Following Juan Martin del Potro’s exit on Thursday night, Spaniard Tommy Robredo caused another late-night upset at the Australian Open as he ousted ninth seed Richard Gasquet 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(6) in three hours and 19 minutes.

The 31-year-old Robredo is looking to reach the quarter-finals Down Under for the first time since 2007 (l. to Federer) and will face Stanislas Wawrinka, whom he leads 6-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

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