Key events

Djokovic* 3-2 De Minaur

30-30 on the great man’s serve but some precise serving sees him out.

Djokovic 2-2 *De Minaur

It goes to 30-30, danger for De Minaur? Djok goes wide with a forehand to hand over game point. But the first deuce of the game comes. An overhit forehand baseline hit pits De Minaur at an advantage before a major rally follows and it’s De Minaur who cracks in misreading a punched backhand and being unable to keep it in. But then Djokovic does much the same. De Minaur sees it out, well done, though signs of vulnerability, too.

Djokovic* 2-1 De Minaur

Djok leaps up for a backhand and nets for 15-15. We are looking for signs of weakness but his next backhand sends his opponent scrabbling into the Yarra River so no worries there. The next backhand is guided down the line, the one following that is less precise. Still, a skidding serves sees it out.

Djokovic 1-1 *De Minaur

Impressive service game from De Minaur, he’s served out to love, an ace included.

Djokovic* 1-0 De Minaur

And we’re off, Djokovic serving first as his sneakers squeak during an aggressive first point. His hammy is taped up but he serves out, though is sent sprawling by a De Minaur backhand for 40-15. An ace gets the job done. Djokovic’s grunts seem noticeably loud.

Djokovic and De Minaur take to the court for a knock-up. The big question is the health of Djokovic’s hamstring, which could twang at any minute.

The Rod Laver just saw Andrey Rublev beat Holger Rune in five sets, and that’s delayed the start of this match for a few minutes. In the battle of the Americans, Ben Shelton beat JJ Wolf in four.

Roberto Batista Agut is taking on Tommy Paul, the American, on Margaret Court’s court, and Paul is a set up, with the second set going on serve.

Elsewhere, via PA Media.

Aryna Sabalenka gave a statement of her intent at the Australian Open by powering past Belinda Bencic to reach the quarter-finals. Sabalenka was superb in a 7-5 6-2 victory over 12th seed Bencic.

Sabalenka will be a big favourite to make the final from the bottom half, particularly following the exit of fourth seed Caroline Garcia in another upset. Garcia ended last season by winning the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals and arrived in Melbourne as one of the favourites but fell to a shock loss against 45th-ranked Magda Linette.

The Pole, who has unexpectedly gone further than her compatriots Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, claimed a 7-6 (3) 6-4 victory to make the first grand slam quarter-final of her career.

Croatian Donna Vekic, who ended the run of 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova with a 6-2 1-6 6-3 victory. Former world number one Karolina Pliskova has slid virtually unnoticed through the draw, reaching the last eight with a 6-0 6-4 victory over Zhang Shuai.

The UK TV coverage reminds us that Alex de Minaur is the paramour of plucky Brit Katie Boulter. Her man is currently warming up in the bowels of the Rod Laver, some natty dance steps putting his fibres through stretching and flexing.

Top seed Nadal described the balls, which appear to fluff up quickly, as “worse quality” than the previous year at Melbourne Park, while Murray labelled them “flat”. Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic said they were slower than before and seriously affected play.

After demonstrating the balls’ lack of bounce to the umpire during his second round match against Alex Molcan, Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime said the situation was “crazy” and the balls “terrible”.

Jack Draper, who is sponsored by Dunlop, said: “They start off flying a lot. Then all of a sudden they get quite fluffy. A couple of them went very soft very quickly. I sort of gave them to the ref.”

The latest reporting from Melbourne from our team.

Preamble

So, Djokovic is going for 22, and his tenth title, but all is not well in Team Djoko. At least he’s actually here but Flinders Park’s winningest player is a tad hobbled and though he made relatively short work of Dimitrov in the last round is probably not 100 percent. Step forward Alex de Minaur, the home hero, though from Sydney, who has made relatively serene progress to this point. He’s got as far this year as he’s ever been at a Slam. They have never played each other so we are into new territory, even if de Minaur did beat Nadal in the warmups for Melbourne.

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