24 Jan 2012

Hewitt fights hard but to no avail as Djokovic advances

6:08 am on 24 January 2012

The defending champion Novak Djokovic weathered a gallant challenge from a tenacious Lleyton Hewitt to send the last Australian in the draw packing and make the quarter-finals of the Australian Tennis Open.

While most at the packed Rod Laver Arena hoped for a boilover, few expected it to materialise but 30-year-old Hewitt rode the crowd's emotion to poach a set off the world number one before going down fighting 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Dressed in black and prowling panther-like across the baseline, Djokovic was in no mood for sentiment as he motored through the first two sets.

Coasting at 3-0 up in the third set, Djokovic stumbled on serve to allow the gritty Australian to fight back then take the match to a fourth after the Serb netted on set point.

Djokovic captured the decisive break at 3-2 in the fourth and sealed the match with a booming backhand down the line.

The top seed will play Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarter-finals.