Novak Djokovic has recorded one of his most remarkable Australian Open victories – in the most remarkable of circumstances.

Djokovic overcame a mid-match injury, play being suspended to kick all fans out of the arena and young American star Taylor Fritz, holding on to win their third-round clash 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2.

“This is definitely one of the most special wins in my life,” the Serbian said post-match.

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“Doesn’t matter what round it is and against who it is, under these kinds of circumstances, to pull this through is definitely something I’ll remember forever.”

However Djokovic admitted he does not know whether he’ll play in the fourth round after what he confirmed was a muscle tear.

“Right now I know it’s a tear, definitely, of the muscle. So I don’t know if I’ll be able to recover from that in less than two days.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m going to step on the court or not.”

The match was halted early in the fourth set to force all fans to leave Rod Laver Arena.

Serbian fans are told to leave at the 11:30pm curfew time. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

As the clock struck 11:30pm, security descended upon the arena and told attendees – with the exception of those in each player’s boxes – to leave.

At midnight Victoria entered a five-day COVID lockdown, and under government rules ticket-holders had to be home before then.

But the match would’ve almost certainly ended before the 11:30pm deadline if not for an injury suffered by Djokovic early in the third set.

Djokovic gives it to crowd

0:35

The Serbian was ahead of his young opponent by two sets as expected when he slipped on the court and split his legs to an uncomfortable degree, tweaking the right side of his abdomen.

Djokovic required a medical time-out after the game, in which he still held serve, and then required more medical treatment after most games that set.

The slip from Djokovic came on the first point at 1-1 as he tried to change direction.

Was holding his side as he headed to his chair after the game.

Now back from the MTO, play continuing. pic.twitter.com/hU9j4Ra3LJ

— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 12, 2021

He was clearly in pain, wincing before and after points, with Fritz finally breaking him at 5-3 and then serving out the third set.

More treatment for Djokovic at the changeover at 2-3.

The problem seems to be with his right oblique/abdominal.

Currently not doing too well when stretched out wide. pic.twitter.com/G52yeU6YeN

— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 12, 2021

That set ended 20 minutes before the deadline, which was told to fans as they entered Melbourne Park for Friday night’s session, but not expected to be reached.

Taylor Fritz serves out the third set.

Djokovic up 7-6(1), 6-4, 3-6.

Massaging his own oblique at the set break.

Crowd booing at the reminder that they need to be out by 11.30 (20 minutes’ time). pic.twitter.com/P4iMBxyoYl

— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 12, 2021

With Djokovic nowhere near 100 per cent, Fritz was able to steadily work his way into control of the match, claiming the next two sets.

Yet in the fifth, it was Djokovic who struck first, with Fritz losing four consecutive points at 30-0 and 2-3.

The eight-time Australian Open champion then held serve to move into the fourth round for the 14th time in his career, where he is scheduled to face Canada’s Milos Raonic.





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