MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic barely got out of first gear in a sizzling performance to thrash Yoshihito Nishioka and move into the Australian Open fourth round Friday, closing in on a record eighth title.
The Serbian defending champion swept past the Japanese 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in just 85 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to reach a Grand Slam round of 16 for the 50th time — second only to Roger Federer’s 67.
“That’s definitely one of the best service matches I have had lately,” said the world No 2 after firing down 17 aces, along with 40 winners.
“I was inspired by my coach Goran (Ivanisevic) who came out here today. He brings a lot of insight.”
He will next play 14th seed Diego Schwartzman for a place in the quarter-finals after the Argentinian beat Djokovic’s countryman Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7).
“Diego is definitely one of the quickest on tour. Hopefully if I serve as good as I did today, I feel I have a decent chance,” said the second seed.
Djokovic gave away just three games in his first and only meeting with left-hander Nishioka in the Davis Cup last year and the 24-year-old fared little better at Melbourne Park.
He was broken in his first service game and was no match for the power and precision of the 16-time Grand Slam winner.
Djokovic twisted the knife with another early break in the second set as he went through the gears.
Nishioka became despondent with Djokovic doing no wrong, winning 34 points in a row on his serve before a double fault brought the run to a halt.
He wrapped up the one-sided rout when Nishioka sent a forehand wide.
Djokovic is seeking to become only the third man to win eight or more titles at the same Grand Slam after Rafael Nadal (12 at Roland Garros) and Roger Federer (eight at Wimbledon).