It was a wild Day Five Down Under with some thrilling tennis played, but there were a couple of matches that stood out above the rest on Friday.
First, defending champion and top-seed Novak Djokovic needed five sets to move past American Taylor Fritz 7-6(1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2.
Djokovic had a leg injury that was clearly affecting him in the middle stages of the match but was able to pull through in the deciding fifth set.
“I just tried to stay in there. I was praying and hoping that whatever is happening there, it would feel better,” said Djokovic. “Towards the end of the fourth set it improved. The third and fourth sets I don’t know, I just had to go for my shots. This is definitely one of the most special wins in my life. It doesn’t matter what round, against who, under these kinds of circumstances, to pull this through is something I’ll remember forever.”
Djokovic moves on to play 14th seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who defeated Marton Fucsovics 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
While Djokovic held on to a two-sets-to-love lead, Dominic Thiem had to come back from that deficit against Nick Kyrgios. The U.S. Open champion rallied to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
“There are easier things than playing Nick at his home tournament on his favorite court,” said Thiem. “He is a huge player when he is on fire like today. When I was down two break points in the first game of the third set, I was considering the prospect of losing. But I kept fighting and with the break in the third set, I thought there was a chance to turn it around. The longer the match went on, the more comfortable I felt.”
Thiem draws 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov next. Dimitrov led 6-0, 1-0 over Pablo Carreno Busta before the Spaniard was forced to retire.
Serena Williams overcame a first set deficit as her opponent Anastasia Potapova served for the opener at 5-3. But nerves overcame the young Russian and she struggled with her serve from that point forward as Serena rallied for the 7-6(5), 6-2 victory.
Second-seed Simona Halep and 14th seed Garbine Muguruza each cruised in their respective matches, as did former champion and third-seed Naomi Osaka.
Click Here to see the full results from Day Five at the 2021 Australian Open.