Australian Open 2018: Djokovic comes though Monfils test in blazing Melbourne heat

The six-time champion recovered from a set down to reach the third round in temperatures that reached 39C.

Australian Open 2018: Djokovic comes though Monfils test in blazing Melbourne heat
(Photo via Getty Images/ Cameron Spencer)

Novak Djokovic battled through “brutal” conditions to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

The six-time champion recovered from a set down to defeat Gael Monfils 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3 on the Rod Laver Arena in temperatures that reached 39C.

After taking the first set, Monfils had to leave the court in the second after telling the tournament doctor that he was feeling dizzy.

The Frenchman spent much of the third set crouching on his haunches, and at times it wasn’t clear if he’d continue.

Remarkably, Monfils fought back in the fourth, demonstrating his incredible athleticism and speed to produce some spectacular shots.

Djokovic also suffered physically under the blazing Melbourne sun but, despite his lack of matches, came through a gruelling contest in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

 

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"We both suffered on the court today"

"It was obvious that we both suffered on the court today," said Djokovic, who is playing his first competitive tournament since Wimbledon following an elbow injury.

"Really tough conditions, brutal, especially for the first hour and a half. I knew it was going to be a big challenge for both of us,” he added.

"Gael is one of the best athletes in our sport. I was just hanging in there, trying to use every single opportunity that is presented.

"He wasn't at his best at the end of the second and entire third set. The fourth could have gone either way."

Djokovic, who will meet Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas in the third round, was asked about his elbow after the match, and the Serb replied: "It's still not 100 per cent, but building."

 

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Double faults an issue for Djokovic 

Djokovic may have brushed aside his first-round opponent, Donald Young, for the loss of just seven games, but Monfils was always going to provide a tougher test.

The Frenchman was ranked six in the world this time last year and arrived in Melbourne with form after winning the ATP 250 event in Doha.

And Monfils made the perfect start, breaking Djokovic twice for 3-0 in the opening set as the Serb struggled with his serve.

Djokovic hit four double faults in the first three games but fought back to 3-3 as both players made errors from the back of the court.

Monfils held on to take the opener before he started to struggle midway through the second set and was forced to leave the court.

Djokovic took his fifth break point of the set at 4-3 before levelling the match at a set apiece.

The third set was a one-sided affair, as Djokovic took full advantage of his opponent’s significant drop-off.

Djokovic broke the ailing Frenchman three times for a two sets to one lead, and despite Monfils revival in the fourth, the Serb held his nerve to reach round three.

 

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