Djokovic edges closer to hat-trick
MELBOURNE (AFP) – Novak Djokovic dismissed concerns about any Lance Armstrong-style doping scandal in tennis Friday as he swept into the Australian Open fourth round without a single drop of serve.
The Serbian world number one kept focus in an exhibition-style 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over Czech crowd-pleaser Radek Stepanek as he moved closer to sealing the tournament’s first hat-trick in nearly half-a-century.
Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska also reached round four without dropping a set, and there were wins for China’s Li Na and former world number one Ana Ivanovic.
Stepanek skipped around the court, headed the ball, used his racquet as a machine-gun and showed his behind to Djokovic as he played to the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
Afterwards Djokovic, who progressed having faced just five break points in the entire tournament, turned deadly serious when asked about champion cyclist Armstrong’s long-awaited doping confession.
“He cheated the sport. He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story. I think they should take all his titles away because it’s not fair towards any sportsman, any athlete,” he said.
“It’s just not the way to be successful. So I think he should suffer for his lies all these years.”
Djokovic also backed tennis’s urine test-based anti-doping regime despite fears it is outdated, and after suspicions started circulating about some of the sport’s top players.
“We are keeping this sport clean. We are working towards it. There is awareness with the players and with the officials. As long as it is like that, we are in a good road,” he said.
As baking temperatures which tested players on Thursday subsided, Radwanska schooled Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3, 6-1 and German fifth seed Angelique Kerber beat Madison Keys of the United States.
“I think I’ve never won 12 matches in a row,” said Radwanska, who has already won two titles this year.
“I never played two tournaments before the Australian Open. It was my first time, I played Auckland and Sydney and it was a good start. I can’t complain.”