MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic battled with a lower back injury as he claimed his 11th round of 16 appearance at the Australian Open on Saturday, January 20.
The 6-time champion advanced with a clear-cut 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spanish 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in two hours and 21 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.
But there was concern in the Serb's camp when the former world No.1 sought a medical timeout early in the second set for treatment to his lower back.
Djokovic, looking for matches after 6 months out with right elbow trouble, will next face South Korea's Chung Hyeon in Sunday's 4th round after he shocked Alexander Zverev.
The injury was a fresh concern for the 12-time Grand Slam champion, whose ranking has slipped to 14 after an inactive second half of 2017.
But Djokovic was workmanlike as broke the Spaniard's serve 5 times, although his errors outnumbered his winners 40-37.
"It was a straight sets win, but it was almost two-and-a-half hours, so it wasn't that easy and comfortable on the court," Djokovic said.
"I knew coming into the match that he was a great fighter, he grinds it out and gets a lot of balls back."
"Obviously for me it's taking it one match at a time but I have to be more humble with my expectations as I haven't played in the last 6 months."
"But I am very pleased where my game is at."
Should Djokovic beat Chung he is facing a potential quarter-final against Austria's 5th seed Dominic Thiem, who must first get past American surprise packet Tennys Sandgren on Monday, January 22. – Rappler.com