Eight-time winner Novak Djokovic fought through what he had described as a tournament-ending injury to beat Milos Raonic and reach the Australian Open quarterfinals yesterday.
Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams survived scares to go through but US Open champion Dominic Thiem was a major casualty when he fell to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.
Simona Halep avenged her crushing Roland Garros defeat by Polish teenager Iga Swiatek to set up a meeting with Williams, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei reached her first Slam quarterfinal at the age of 35.
Djokovic, the world number one, had raised the alarm over an abdominal injury after his five-set battle with Taylor Fritz, but he showed few outward signs in his 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win.
However, the 17-time Grand Slam winner said he had spent “every single hour” since Friday’s win trying to recover, and wasn’t sure he would play until he warmed up before the match.
“If it was any other tournament than a Grand Slam I would retire from the tournament, that’s for sure,” said Djokovic, who becomes just the second player after Roger Federer to win 300 Grand Slam matches.
“But because it’s a Grand Slam, I want to give my best alongside my team to try to recover and get on the court.”
The defending champion will next meet German sixth seed Alexander Zverev, who beat Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 as he seeks his first Grand Slam title.
Earlier, Japan’s Osaka edged a thriller with fellow major-winner Garbine Muguruza, and Williams came through a physical test against Aryna Sabalenka to maintain her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.