Seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic faces a seeded opponent for the first time in Melbourne this year, with 14th seed Diego Schwartzman looking to end the second seed’s quest for an eighth title in Melbourne.
Djokovic is the most successful male player in the tournament’s history, with the Serbian arguably the favourite again this year to pick up his eighth title, though will likely have his biggest test to date against Schwartzman, who is one of the best competitors on the ATP Tour.
The two have met on three previous occasions, with Djokovic having won on all three occasions, though Schwartzman pushed the world number two to three sets in Rome last season, and to five sets at the French Open in 2017. Taking place on Rod Laver Arena, the winner will face 32nd seed Milos Raonic or Marin Cilic in the last eight.
So Far in Melbourne
Whilst widely seen as a clay-court specialist, Schwartzman has picked up some good results on hard courts, and is back in the second week here after previously making it in 2018. The Argentine eased past Lloyd Harris and Alejandro Davidoch Fokina in his first two matches, and then saw off 24th seed Dusan Lajovic to reach the second week without dropping a set. The 14th seed has certainly built some momentum heading into this clash.
Djokovic came into the tournament as the favourite for the title, though was not always too convincing in his first round, eventually prevailing in four sets against Jan-Lennard Struff. However, the second seed has cruised since then, sliding past Tatsuma Ito and Yoshihito Nishioka with very little trouble. It will certainly take a special performance to beat him this fortnight.
Djokovic has had so much success at this tournament over the years, and will be fully aware of what he has to do against a dangerous opponent such as Schwartzman, The Serbian will look to serve well and dictate the rallies as much as possible, whilst he will look to prolong the rallies when Schwartzman is in control to force errors out of the Argentine. However, Schwartzman is also a good mover around court, such Djokovic will also have to look to be patient and avoid making unnecessary mistakes.
It will certainly be tough for Schwartzman to put Djokovic away in longer rallies, so the 14th seed will likely look to stay aggressive and end rallies as soon as possible. Schwartzman will also need to serve very well against someone who can return as well as Djokovic, though may have some success in bringing the Serbian into the net and putting his opponent in uncomfortable positions around the net.
This will likely be a tough battle for both men, who have displayed some confident tennis in the first week of action in Melbourne Park. Schwartzman certainly has the attitude and aggressiveness to hurt Djokovic, though the Serbian is rounding into form nicely, and it is hard to see him losing here.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Four Sets