Viktor retires, Nole into round 4 in Melbourne

Third-seeded Novak Djokovic has reached the round of 16 at Australian Open for the fifth year in a row when his Davis Cup teammate and world no. 27 Viktor Troicki retired after just 39 minutes on Hisense Arena on Friday.

A lenghty baseline rally ended with Troicki hitting the net to bring up the first break point for Nole in the second game of the match. The chance went after great Viktor’s service, but he earned the second with a fantastic lob, and this time didn’t waste it. A year younger Serb converted it with a forehand winner down the line for an early advantage. Troicki fought back immediately with a rebreak, but Djokovic broke him once again and then held to 15 for 4-1. Viktor saved two break/set points in the eighth game, but Nole capitalised on the third to clinch the set 6-2.

Troicki then retired due to a stomach muscle strain.

“I just heard that he had some struggles with his stomach muscle, but I wasn’t sure how serious it is,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t know that he’s not able to serve… He obviously tried his best. It’s the third round of a Grand Slam. It’s not the way you want to finish the tournament, definitely. It’s sad for him, but I have to move on.”

Troicki admitted he’d struggled with the injury throughout the week. “I was thinking it might get better for today, but it didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t want to risk anything; the season’s just started. I had to be 100 per cent if I wanted to beat Novak – if any chance, I needed to be 100 per cent – so today I think I took a smart decision and retired from the match.”

First set statistics: aces (1-2), double faults (0-1), winners (11-7), unforced errors (8-17), total points won (35-25).

Novak next faces no.14 seed Nicolas Almagro. The Spaniard beat world no.16 Croat Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets 6-4, 7-6(8), 6-3.

Nole was leading 6-1, 1-0 when Almagro retired in their only previous encounter, in 2008, at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome.

We wish Viktor quick recovery, and good luck to Nole in the next round.

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