Defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame a late blip to keep his winning run going in the third round of the Australian Open.
The Serbian was broken serving for the match but recovered quickly to defeat Denis Istomin 6-3 6-3 7-5 in a minute short of two hours. It was the second seed’s 27th straight victory dating back to his US Open final defeat by Rafael Nadal and his 24th in a row at Melbourne Park.
For the most part, this was the sharpest he has looked this tournament, and Istomin soon found himself scampering around the back of the court in a vain attempt to live with his opponent.
Djokovic broke serve for the first time in the third game of the match and then again to take the first set.
Istomin, who is coached by his mother Klaudiya, took a medical time-out for treatment to his left leg but again found himself swiftly behind in the second set. He simply could not match the athleticism of Djokovic and frequently was left going for impossible shots.
But he hinted at a comeback in the fifth game of the third set, stringing together a series of winners and soaking up the acclaim of both the crowd and his opponent.
Still there did not appear any real threat to Djokovic, who was a break up and had not faced a single break point.
But serving for the match he double-faulted to hand Istomin his chance and then netted a forehand. He broke again immediately, though, letting out a huge roar, and this time he completed the job.
Djokovic goes through to face talented Italian Fabio Fognini, who was a straight-sets winner over Sam Querrey.