Defending champion Novak Djokovic was taken to the limit to book a quarter-final berth on day seven of the action down under as Frenchman Gilles Simon fell just shirt of causing a major upset.
The speedy Frenchman came from behind twice against the Serbian who was far from his best at Rod Laver Arena. The fatigued top seed dug deep as Simon saved two match points in the decider, but Djokovic held his nerve to bag a hard-fought 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 6-4 4-6 6-3 win.
The world number one will need much improvement ahead of his quarter-final match on Tuesday, where he will meet Japan’s Kei Nishikori who made light-work of France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 6-4 straight sets win.
It was also an easy day at the office for Roger Federer as the four-time Australian Open winner encountered no major problems as he saw off Belgium’s David Goffin in straight sets 6-2 6-1 6-4.
Thomas Berdych is next in line for Federer as the sixth seed came through his own five-set thriller to book a place in the last eight coming from a set down to edge past Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6 6-4 6-3 1-6 6-3.
In women’s action, Serena Williams quest for a 22nd grand slam title continued as the veteran American made light work of her Russian opponent Margarita Gasparyan dropping just three games to win 6-2 6-1.
Maria Sharapova set up a tasty clash with the defending champion Williams as the Russian secured her place in the quarter-finals with a close fought 7-5 7-5 win over Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
Anna-Lena Friedsam’s dream run came to an end as the 21-year-old German fell victim to fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska who booked her spot in the last eight coming from a set down to bag a hard-fought 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 7-5 victory.
Next up for Radwanska is a clash with Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro as the tenth seed also had to battle back from a set down to send Australia’s own Daria Gavriola out of the tournament after a 0-6 6-3 6-2 win.