Cameras picked up a shattering moment between Alex de Minaur and his girlfriend Katie Boulter after the local hope's mauling from Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open on Monday night. De Minaur was no match for nine-time champion Djokovic, who showed no signs of suffering from the hamstring injury that has dominated discussions around the 35-year-old at this year's grand slam.
The Serb crashed de Minaur's party to send the last Aussie hope packing in a ruthless fourth-round display. Djokovic delivered a centre-court masterclass to bully de Minaur 6-2 6-1 6-2 in two hours and six minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
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Djokovic's statement win ended de Minaur's pipe dream of breaking Australia's 47-year men's singles title drought at Melbourne Park, serving as another sobering reality check for the one-time US Open quarter-finalist. The 23-year-old Aussie admitted he was disappointed with his showing against the 21-time grand slam champion, although in fairness to de Minaur, his opponent looked close to his all-conquering best on Monday night.
"There's lots of things to improve for me if I want to take the next step," de Minaur said after the match. "I want to do better than fourth round at a slam. It's great, I'm happy, but I'm not content. I want more.
"I want to be in quarter-finals, be in the semi-finals, really go deep. This will add fuel to the fire. I'll get my head down. I'll speak to my team and work on the things I need to work on to take the next step because this is not where I want my goals to be, making fourth rounds of slams."
The Aussie could not hide his disappointment in the immediate aftermath of the tennis lesson he was handed by Djokovic, with cameras capturing a brutal exchange between the Aussie and his tennis star girlfriend. Boulter came in to check on the Aussie as he underwent his post-match routine on the exercise bikes, but after realising the shattered Aussie was in no mood to talk, she simply gave him a reassuring hug as he sat on the bike with his head slumped to his chest.
While the Aussie's feelings were understandable, he did later admit that the version of Djokovic he came up against on Monday night, was the best opponent he's ever faced. Few that watched the Serb's clinical masterclass would have thought any differently.
"Maybe I'm being very hard on myself right now, but it did seem like I played a pretty faultless Novak today," the World No.24 said. "I'll try not to take it too hard on myself because ultimately these guys, they've done a lot in the sport.
"If they bring their best level, you're just slightly off your game, this is what happens."
Novak Djokovic turns on the style in statement win
Try as he might, the speedy baseliner simply could not compete with Djokovic's firepower as the 21-time grand slam winner clubbed 26 winners to nine and broke de Minaur six times to book a quarter-final date on Wednesday with fifth seed Andrey Rublev.
"I cannot say I'm sorry that you haven't watched a longer match, to be honest. I really wanted to win in straight sets," Djokovic told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
Despite copping his heaviest defeat in 22 grand slam appearances, de Minaur still declared his summer a success after matching his career-best run in Melbourne and taking down 22-times grand slam winner Rafael Nadal, the dethroned Open champion, at the United Cup in Sydney.
"I had a great match against (Adrian) Mannarino (in round two). That was a positive. Made the second week of a slam again. That's another positive," he said. "Over the Aussie summer I got a win over Rafa, which is pretty positive. There's definitely positives out there."
Moving more freely and growing in confidence, Djokovic will be a hot favourite against Russia's Rublev as he continues his pursuit of a mind-boggling 10th Open title after heaping yet more pain on Australians at the majors.
The super Serb broke Nick Kyrgios' heart in last year's Wimbledon final and has now improved his win-loss record over Aussies at the slams - including Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and John Millman - to 12-1. His lone grand slam defeat to an Australian came against de Minaur's mentor Hewitt more than 16 years ago in New York when Djokovic was still a teenager.
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