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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday January 24, 2023

After getting blasted off the court by Novak Djokovic on Monday night in Rod Laver Arena, Australia’s Alex de Minaur has a better feel for where the nine-time Australian Open champion’s game is at better than anyone else.

Tennis Express

His feeling? It’s Novak’s title to win.

Has De Minaur ever seen Djokovic play better?

“I don't think I have, if I'm completely honest,” De Minaur said. “I think what I experienced today was probably Novak very close to his best, I would say. To me, if that's the level, I think he's definitely the guy that's going to take the title.”

De Minaur was well aware of the fact that Djokovic had been hobbled across his first three matches in week one, struggling with the left hamstring that he originally injured in Adelaide. He said it was his plan to try and get the 21-time major champion on the run as much as possible. Unfortunately, Djokovic simply wasn’t having it.

“That was the game plan, to get him moving, really test where he's at,” De Minaur said. “Yeah, didn't get much joy out of it.”

The days of Djokovic being hampered by the injury may be behind him in Melbourne. Whatever the 35-year-old and his team have been doing to heal the injury has apparently been working.

“So I'm really glad that my body has responded really well,” a pleased Djokovic told reporters on Monday, reporting that he was pain-free for the first time all tournament against De Minaur. “Tonight I didn't feel any pain. I moved as well as I have the whole tournament. It means we are progressing in the right direction.”

Originally De Minaur hoped that he might face a Djokovic that was operating at less than 100 percent. He planned to move him around the court and goad him into a grinding match. What ended up happening was the Aussie getting blown off the court.

There’s no same in that, Djokovic was just too good.

“I think everyone's kind of seeing what's been happening over the couple weeks,” De Minaur said. “It's the only thing everyone's been talking about. Today I was out there on court against him. Either I'm not a good enough tennis player to expose that, or... it looked good to me. He was just too good in all aspects.”