Zverev embraces challenge of Djokovic

·2-min read

Alexander Zverev is embracing tennis's version of Mission Impossible - taking down Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

After a surprisingly tricky round-one clash with American Marcos Giron, the towering German has hit his stride with three successive straight-sets victories, most recently against Serb Dusan Lajovic.

Now to the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

And the really tricky part, even if world No.1 Djokovic is battling a mysterious abdominal injury.

Since winning the first of his record eight Australian Open crowns way back in 2008, the Serb has compiled an extraordinary 72-5 win-loss record at Melbourne Park.

But if Zverev was looking for any statistical support, three of those five losses did come at the quarter-final stage to Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Roddick.

"You've got to play your best tennis, especially here - this is his favourite court, this is his favourite tournament," said Zverev, whose career-best showing at Melbourne Park came last year when he bowed out in the semis to Dominic Thiem.

"To be able to have a chance against him, you have to be playing extremely well.

"You have to be playing aggressive tennis, being the one that dominates.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"It's one of the toughest challenges in our sport to be playing Novak at this grand slam in the later rounds."

Djokovic has won five of the seven previous meetings between the pair, including a tight three-setter at the ATP Cup just two weeks ago.

"I had two of my biggest wins against him in the Rome final and London, but the other matches were extremely difficult," said the sixth-seeded Zverev.

"We've played twice in the last few months, in London and at the ATP Cup, which was an extremely close match which could have gone both ways.

"I think he would say the same thing.

"It's always a very physical match and always involves a lot of movement.

"You have to move extremely well against him."

Due to the abdominal injury, Djokovic claimed he had "basically no preparation" for his fourth-round encounter against Milos Raonic, which ended in a 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-1 6-4 win - his 300th at grand slam level.

"If it's any other tournament than a grand slam then I would retire, withdraw from the event, that's for sure," Djokovic said.

"When it warmed up it was fine and during the match today it was kind of on and off.

"It's not ideal, but I cannot complain.

"I won the match against a great player and hopefully it's going to be even better (against Zverev)."