Novak Djokovic battled through injury to overcome Taylor Fritz in the second of two five-set thrillers on day five of the Australian Open, with fans forced to leave before the end of play.
The defending champion suffered a hip injury in the fourth set but played through the pain to win 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 against his 23-year-old American opponent.
Play was suspended later that set to ensure all fans left the Rod Laver Arena due to the five-day Victoria lockdown measures, which ordered that all Melbourne residents must be home by 23:59 local time.
The top-seeded Serb revealed after the game that he suspected a torn muscle, a setback that Canadian Milos Raonic will no doubt look to capitalise on in their fourth-round clash.
Djokovic’s win was preceded by another dramatic five-set bout as Dominic Thiem came from two sets down to beat home favourite Nick Kyrgios.
The Austrian third seed battled back to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in front of a raucous, partisan Australian crowd, and secure a matchup with Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.
Unlike the game to follow, the match managed to beat the lockdown buzzer, concluding 50 minutes before Melbourne Park was set to close.
Elsewhere, sixth seed Alexander Zverev, saw off French opponent Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, but eighth seed Diego Schwartzman was stunned in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 by qualifier and world number 114 Aslan Karatsev.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams survived a spirited performance from Anastasia Potapova to progress.
Williams, targeting a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam, beat the 101st ranked Russian 7-6(7-5), 6-2 despite making 31 unforced errors.
The American will face Belarussian seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the quarter-finals, who impressively dispatched Ann Li in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.
Third seed Naomi Osaka overcame a tricky tie with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, winning 6-3 6-2 to progress to the fourth-round where she will face Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Second seed Simona Halep also cruised through, beating Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-1, 6-3.
There was some British joy in the doubles, as Jamie Murray and partner Bruno Soares beat Laslo Djere of Serbia and Italy’s Stefano Travaglia 6-1 6-2.
Elsewhere Heather Watson and her partner Leylah Fernandez won in the women’s doubles 7-5, 6-2 over Australians Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock.
And there was another victory for Putney’s Joe Salisbury, who alongside American Desirae Krawczyk, won 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 against fourth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia and Taiwanese Chan Hao-ching.
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