NOVAK DJOKOVIC was victorious in a wild five-set Australian Open match.
The Serb was two sets up and cruising but then required a third set medical timeout and struggled for movement for the remainder of the match.
That allowed Taylor Fritz to claim the third and fourth sets and at one point the American looked favourite to win.
However, Djokovic dug deep and let out an emotional roar after securing a 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 win.
To make the evening even more bizarre, play was suspended and fans thrown out at 11.30pm local time as Melbourne went into lockdown from midnight.
WHAT A NIGHT
Djokovic is through to face Raonic in the fourth round.
So the Australian Open moves behind closed doors tomorrow.
Let’s hope by the time we return with semi-final coverage that fans can be back inside Rod Laver Arena.
Stay safe, everybody.
DJOKOVIC BEATS FRITZ 7-6 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2
Djokovic breaks to win!
What an extraordinary evening on Rod Laver Arena.
We started three and a half hours ago with Djokovic looking supreme.
And we end it gone midnight with him somehow pulling off a victory in front of no fans.
He’s overcome a side strain, losing two sets, and seeing fans kicked out at 11.30pm to get home before lockdown.
Novak through to the fourth round, is the bottom line.
FIFTH SET – DJOKOVIC 5-2* FRITZ
One more game. So, so good from Novak.
This is a lesson in stand and deliver. The man can’t move but he’s hitting all the lines with his groundstrokes.
A raised fist as he walks back to his chair one game from a brilliant win.
FIFTH SET – DJOKOVIC 3-2* FRITZ
Somehow, remarkably, Djokovic holds on again.
Fritz must be wondering what’s going on. The Serb’s serve has been impenetrable so far in this fifth set.
Surely he can’t win this, surely.
FIFTH SET – DJOKOVIC *2-2 FRITZ
Djokovic is slapping his groundstrokes, really going for winners.
The moment he gets to moving, he can’t stay with Fritz.
It’s a comfortable hold to 15 for the American.
FIFTH SET – DJOKOVIC *1-1 FRITZ
Djokovic grimaces as he chases down a forehand from Fritz, then seeks some respite by leaning on an advertising board.
He’s in real trouble here. Fritz holds again as we tick part midnight.
FIFTH SET – DJOKOVIC 1-0* FRITZ
A forehand winner with real zip on to take the opening game of the final set.
Djokovic is really playing through the pain barrier here but you can be sure he’ll do everything possible to get this win.
Novak was having a word with his camp during the break between sets, but there’s not much anyone can do to help him.
This is about somehow scraping over the line.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 4-6 FRITZ
Game and fourth set.
Fritz takes us all the way on Rod Laver Arena.
It’s coming up to midnight local time and there are no fans here.
Is this how Djokovic’s defence ends?
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 4-5* FRITZ
Djokovic holds again, and at least asks the question of Fritz to serve it out.
A few big minutes for the American coming up here.
NINTCHDBPICT000635871087Credit: AFP or licensors
NINTCHDBPICT000635871571Credit: AP:Associated Press
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 *3-5 FRITZ
Another hold for Fritz to take him one game away from levelling this up.
Djokovic looks spent at the moment.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 3-4* FRITZ
Djokovic holds to 15 with a very good ace out wide.
That break in play might have done him a bit of good to regroup here.
Wonder if he’ll save some energy for a fifth set.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 *2-4 FRITZ
And hold the American does, he two games away from forcing a deciding set.
HERE WE GO AGAIN
Right, after a 10-minute delay, we’re ready to go again.
Fritz serving and up 3-2 in the fourth in front of an empty Rod Laver Arena.
Play has been stopped until all spectators leave.
This is surreal.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 2-3* FRITZ
Djokovic holds somehow, and it’s just a single break of serve.
The players sit down to change ends and this might be all she wrote for the crowds.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 *1-3 FRITZ
Easy once again for Fritz. Djokovic looks beaten.
It’s 11.29pm also local time, what’s going to happen with the crowd?
What a strange evening of tennis.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 *1-1 FRITZ
Pressure straight back on the world No 1 as Fritz holds comfortably again.
Djokovic struggling to even reach out to some of these shots.
Not looking good for the reigning champ.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-6 1-0* FRITZ
A fine hold from Djokovic having saved break point to get there.
He let out a huge roar of frustration aimed towards his corner. Not sure if that was anything they did or just general angst at the situation.
But the world No 1 is battling on.
Another announcement on the public address system to the crowd to start making their way home.
There’s not many inside Rod Laver Arena still, but the ones that are here are standing firm and booing the calls.
DJOKOVIC 7-6 6-4 3-5* FRITZ
Djokovic winds up an in to out forehand, but he puts it wide.
A massive grimace and Fritz BREAKS.
Djokovic looks to the ground and is in clear pain. Fritz serving for the third set.
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