Novak Djokovic faces early tests in quest for 11th Grand Slam title in Melbourne

Counting 100 matches at the Australian Open and with 24 major titles to his name, Novak Djokovic has encountered formidable opposition in the early rounds at Melbourne Park. Australian tennis legend Rod Laver meanwhile said that he is confident that Djokovic’s name will be etched onto the Grand Slam trophy for the 11th time.

Djokovic has set his sights on extending his remarkable Melbourne Park legacy, a feat that would surpass Margaret Court’s 24 major victories. However, his path to glory hasn’t been without hurdles, as he was pushed to the brink by the young talents Dino Prizmic and Alexei Popyrin.

Laver, the exclusive holder of two calendar Grand Slams, maintains his belief that Djokovic will navigate these challenges smoothly. After the 36-year-old Serbian triumphed over Tomas Martin Etcheverry, he now prepares for a fourth-round showdown with Adrian Mannarino.

“It’s almost as if he’s strategically preparing himself for the final,” commented Laver, a recipient of 11 Grand Slam titles, upon his arrival in Melbourne from California. Laver humorously mused, “He might drop a set in these grueling five-set matches, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s toying with us, considering he could win with scores of two and two and two (6-2 6-2 6-2).”

Djokovic’s ability to clinch last year’s title despite battling a minor hamstring injury underscores his exceptional athleticism. Laver, at the age of 85, after whom the Australian Open’s center court is named, firmly believes that only something extraordinary can unseat this tennis titan. “He’s not only a phenomenal athlete but also a tennis genius; he seems to envision his moves on the court as they unfold,” remarked Laver admiringly.