Djokovic suffers 'brain freeze' in Simon scare

Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:05am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Champion Novak Djokovic was keen to forget his unconvincing victory over Gilles Simon that put the Serb through to another Australian Open quarter-final but also gave hope to his title rivals.

Having come into the match without dropping a set, the world number one bashed repeatedly against the brick wall of 14th seeded Frenchman and committed exactly 100 unforced errors in the 6-3 6-7(1) 6-4 4-6 6-3 win at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

The error count was largely testament to Simon's dogged scrambling and counter-punching style, but Djokovic also shot himself in the foot repeatedly with a string of botched dropshots.

A number of them fell flat during big points in the second set tiebreak and again at the close of the fourth set, and the Serb might cringe if he subjected himself to a video review.

After closing out the four-hour 32-minute fourth round tie, one vocal fan in the terraces yelled at Djokovic 'no more dropshots!'

"I hate to say this but you are probably right," Djokovic said in his courtside interview, raising laughter from the crowd.

"I knew what to expect on the court," the Serb later told reporters after booking a quarter-final against Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori.

"But I honestly didn't expect to make this many unforced errors. In terms of a level that I've played, it's the match to forget for me.   Continued...

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his fourth round match against France's Gilles Simon at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jason O'Brien Action Images via Reuters