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Determined Djokovic too strong for gutsy Istomin

Novak Djokovic bared his teeth to finish off Denis Istomin and extend the hottest winning streak in tennis to 27 matches in the third round of the Australian Open yesterday as a cool front brought respite to Melbourne after a four-day heatwave.

Serena Williams earlier made light of the last of the scorching temperatures, which again peaked around 42 degrees Celsius, to blast her way into the fourth round for the loss of only a dozen games.

Tommy Robredo caused the biggest upset of the day by edging ninth seed Richard Gasquet 2-6 7-5 6-4 7-6(6).

Djokovic's last defeat was against Rafa Nadal in the US Open final and Istomin never looked like stopping his winning run at 26 matches.

Looking to become the first man in the professional era to win four consecutive Australian Opens, second seed Djokovic raced through the first two sets in 70 minutes before the Uzbek suddenly upped his aggression to break the Serbian as he was serving for the match.

Visibly piqued, Djokovic was in no mood to risk the possibility of giving up his first set of the tournament and broke back immediately before overwhelming Istomin with the power of his shots to convert his second match point.

TENSE

"I feel better on the court as the tournament is progressing," said Djokovic, who will take on Fabio Fognini for a quarter-final place.

"Things got tense towards the end of the match. I didn't want to drop the third set, obviously, so I was very focused to get the job done in straight sets."

Temperatures are forecast to plummet, a huge relief to players and organisers alike after four days of rows over what constitutes dangerous conditions.

"I definitely look forward to playing in the cooler temperatures," said Williams, whose 6-3 6-3 win over Daniela Hantuchova was a record 61st at the Australian Open, taking her past local great Margaret Court's 60 victories.


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