Djokovic sends Monfils packing in Melbourne

Serbian 14th seed Novak Djokovic was a four-set winner over Frenchman Gaël Monfils in brutally hot conditions to reach the Australian Open third round in Melbourne on Thursday.

Djokovic, who has won the tournament six-times, needed two hours and 47 minutes to beat Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena to set up a meeting with 21st seed Albert Ramos Viñolas of Spain who beat American Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(2).

Overall the 30-year-old Djokovic was always the better of the two from the second set onwards and despite the Frenchman looking good at times there was always going to be one winner as Djokovic won his 15th straight match against Monfils.

The first set had a total of five service breaks before Monfils saved two more break points in the 10th game to win the set 6-4.

But after an unusually poor start by Djokovic, he settled down and in the eighth game of the second set broke his opponents serve to lead 5-3 and then served out the set winning 6-3.

In the third set both players held serve in their opening service games but then Djokovic upped the ante and claimed Monfils’ serve three times in a row to in set 6-1 and look firmly in control.

In a tight fourth set things went with serve until the eighth game where the Serb broke to lead 5-3. He then claimed the set and match 6-3 when he converted his fourth match point.

In a big upset, the 36-year-old unseeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau defeated seventh seed David Goffin of Belgium 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, 7-6(4) and will next be up against Italian 25th seed Fabio Fognini.

Three service breaks in the opening set put Goffin in control winning it 6-1.

In set two, Goffin dropped serve in the opening game but broke back in the fourth game to make it 2-2.

Things went with serve until the 11th game where the Frenchman broke to lead 6-5 but to Goffin’s credit he hung in and managed to force a tiebreaker when he converted his fourth break point to make it 6-6.

Benneteau managed to win the breaker 7-5 to claim the set and even things at a set apiece.

The third was dominated by Benneteau with breaks in the second and sixth games to go on and serve out the set, saving a break point, before winning it 6-1.

The next set started off with Goffin holding then breaking his opponents serve to lead 2-0 but the very next game the Belgian was broken right back.

In the seventh game, the Frenchman broke for the second time in the set to lead 4-3 and two games later at 5-4 served for the match but Goffin somehow saved two match points to break serve and stay alive.

The set needed to be decided by a tiebreaker which Benneteau won 7-4 to win the set and match 7-6 after two hours and 55 minutes.

In other men’s singles action, Italian 25th seed Fabio Fognini beat Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 while Czech 19th seed Tomáš Berdych overcame Spain’s Guillermo García-López 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The 29th seed Richard Gasquet of France had few issues when downing Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

Argentine 12th seed Juan Martín del Potro battled past Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(0), 6-4 and will next face Berdych.

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