Australian Open: Novak Djokovic advances to fourth round as injury fears grow, Andy Murray's run ends

Novak Djokovic has continued his charge towards a 10th Australian Open title, with a superb 7-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov to reach the fourth round, but fears about the durability of his injured left hamstring only grew.

Eyeing a 22nd major to match Rafael Nadal, the Serbian looked uncertain in his movement in a rollercoaster opening set, where he began with a break, squandered three setpoints at 5-3 and dropped serve, before edging a thrilling tiebreak.

A heavily-strapped, but more aggressive Djokovic emerged from a medical timeout and built pressure with his relentless returns from the back, going up 4-2, as 27th seed Dimitrov hit the net to surrender his serve, and went on to wrap up the second set.

Andy Murray waves goodbye to the Australian Open.
Andy Murray waves goodbye to the Australian Open. Photo credit: Getty Images

A half-fit Djokovic can still be a handful for most players, but the fourth seed looked a little more certain of his mobility in the third set and a double break to start helped him subdue the error-prone Dimitrov who failed to make a late comeback. 

Meanwhile, Andy Murray's brave run ground to a halt against Roberto Bautista Agut, as the Spaniard fended off the former world No.1 6-1 6-7 6-3 6-4. 

After back-to-back five-set wins over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis, a ragged Murray hung tough against the 24th seed, but was gradually worn down over the course of the three-and-a-half hour slog at a floodlit Margaret Court Arena.

With the crowd firmly in his corner, Murray broke Bautista Agut in the first game of the fourth set to raise hopes of levelling the match, but ended up squandering a 2-0 lead, before dropping serve in the ninth game.

The spent Scot soon fired a crosscourt forehand long to concede matchpoint and netted a weary backhand return to bow out, triggering manic celebrations by Bautista Agut, who will play American Tommy Paul for a place in the quarter-finals. 

In the women's draw, Aryna Sabalenka continued her fine run of form by moving into the fourth round and the Belarusian, who has not dropped a set in 2023, says refusing to let negative emotions control her has been key to her success.

Runner-up at the WTA Finals last year, Sabalenka has apologised for unsportsmanlike behaviour in the past, be it for throwing away her racquet or refusing to shake hands with opponents, but the 24-year-old seems to have found inner peace this year.

She won a warm-up event in Adelaide, before extending her win streak in Melbourne, with a straight-sets victory over former doubles partner Elise Mertens of Belgium.