Clinical Djokovic ousts Istomin to reach last 16 in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic celebrates after victory in his men's singles match against Denis Istomin in the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 17, 2014 - by SAEED KHAN
The second seed beat the 49th-ranked Uzbek 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 in just under two hours.
It was Djokovic's 24th straight win at the Australian Open as he bids to become only the second man after Australia's Roy Emerson to win the event four times in a row.
Djokovic, coached by German great Boris Becker, dictated the match with a service break in the third game and went on to break Istomin again to take the opening set in 31 minutes.
The Uzbek called for the trainer and took a medical timeout to treat a left quad strain, only to be tested by Djokovic when he returned the court.
The reigning champion pushed him from side to side and Istomin grimaced as he had to stretch for angled volleys.
Istomin lost serve again in the fourth game of the second set with a backhand forced out, and Djokovic rolled through the set taking a two-love lead with a forehand winner.
An overhit forehand gave Djokovic another service break early in the third set but Istomin kept fighting with some classic winners that earned applause from both the crowd and his opponent.
Djokovic had a hiccup when he was broken for the first time serving for the match, but he immediately broke back and safely served it out for victory.
It was a solid performance from the Serb with 31 winners and 23 unforced errors, while breaking Istomin's serve five times. Djokovic will play Italian 15th seed Fabio Fognini in the round of 16.