Novak Djokovic moved closer to a potential second title at the Australian Open while surprise crowd darling Nikolay Davydneko extended his current win streak to 13 matches with a five-set victory on Monday.
Both seeds reached the quarterfinals, with number three Djokovic outclassing Pole Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 and Davydenko triumphing after four hours over Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco, 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.
Djokovic has a theoretical chance to play for world number one honours if he keeps on form in this concluding week.
Djokovic could conceivably take over the top spot should Roger Federer fail to reach the semifinals and Djokovic duplicate his 2008 title at Melbourne Park.
World number two Rafael Nadal is also within sight of the Serb should the Spanish defending champion falter in the closing stages.
Djokovic wasted little energy with 11 aces, 37 winners and six breaks of serve over his 86th-ranked opponent, who advanced in a walkover in the third round at the weekend.
“I’m happy with the way things are going,” said the Serb. “The surface is quite suitable to my game.
“I won this tournament two years ago, so I just look forward to the upcoming challenges. I’m ready to give my 100 percent and try to get a step further.” Davydenko has not been beaten since November 23 in his first group match at the year-end championships in London, an event which he went on to win.
The Russian sixth seed — he faces the Federer-Hewitt winner — has put his somewhat workmanlike reputation to rest with unexpected blasts of personality during his run in Melbourne, suddenly blossoming into a minor personality.
“I’m really tired. It was difficult play him,” said Davydenko, who broke 4-2 for victory in the final set. “I believe I’m still strong mentally. I don’t know if I can win (the title) here, but my tennis is working well.”