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Defending champion Novak Djokovic secured his place in the Australian Open quarter-finals after battling to a four-set victory against home favourite Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3. The Serb looked on course to wrap up a simple straight sets victory, only for the Aussie to rally and get back into the match in the third set, which is the first set Djokovic has conceded in his campaign so far, the first live tennis grand slam of the year.

The number-one seed bounced back in the fourth set, however, securing his place in the quarter-finals by professionally closing out the match in fairly regulation fashion. The victory was the first time in this year’s tournament that Djokovic had been pushed by his opponent and it could stand the defending champion in better stead than if he’d another easy walkover.

Hewitt, who may be competing in his final Australian Open, showed his determination to give the fans inside the Rod Laver something to really cheer about, rolling back the years to produce some electric tennis and excite his vocal home support. Aussie punters who had taken advantage of some patriotic tennis betting offers were left disappointed as Djokovic’s class eventually told.

Djokovic admitted the Aussie had put him through his paces in the match, praising the veteran for his spirit in getting back into the tie.

"I have to give credit to Lleyton, who never gives up,” said Djokovic. “He's a great competitor.”

“For two sets and a 3-0 I was playing well and suddenly I stopped moving. He was making me earn my points and I wasn't able to and made a lot of unforced errors in the third set.”
 
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