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Luke Pentony at Melbourne Park

Novak Djokovic, Alex de Minaur prepare for first meeting with an Australian Open quarterfinal spot up for grabs

On paper, this evening's fourth-round match between Novak Djokovic and Alex de Minaur should go the way of the former world number one.

Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion, chasing a 22nd major singles title.

So far this Australian Open, the Serb has only dropped one set. In his 14 previous appearances in the fourth round of the tournament, he has advanced to the quarterfinals on all but two occasions.

Melbourne Park is a happy hunting ground for Djokovic, but this year's campaign has come with its challenges.

He has been hampered by a left hamstring injury that has required treatment throughout the first week of the tournament.

He wore strapping on his injured leg during Saturday night's straight-sets defeat of Grigor Dimitrov and at times looked ill at ease with his movement around the court.

The injury is playing on Djokovic's mind, as he admitted after his win over Dimitrov.

"I did not want to pull out for the tournament because I wanted to see how it's [hamstring] going to feel on the court," Djokovic said on Saturday.

"So the first match was good. The second match I struggled a lot. I had couple of moments where it was really bad. Today, as well.

"But I managed to survive and kind of pull it through. I'll take it match by match. I don't know what awaits, but I do hope and I have faith for the best."

Djokovic is aware of an additional challenge he faces when he meets de Minaur on Rod Laver Arena.

The crowd will largely be in the corner of the young Australian, who himself has dropped just one set on his way to a second appearance in the last 16 in Melbourne.

Despite Djokovic's familiarity with Rod Laver Arena and a sizeable group of his supporters expected to be in attendance, he is resigned to the fact de Minaur will be the crowd favourite.

But the 35-year-old has met Australian opponents on centre court in previous visits so knows what to expect.

"It's a big challenge of playing an Aussie guy here in front of his home crowd," said fourth-seeded Djokovic.

"I'm sure that the atmosphere will be electric and he's going to have a lot of support, and he's going to be pumped to try to win the match.

"But I've had experiences before. I played Lleyton Hewitt here. I played some big Aussie players, so I know how that feels. I know what to expect."

'Aussie crowd is amazing'

De Minaur, who is the last remaining Australian in either of the main singles draws, relishes every opportunity he gets to play on Rod Laver Arena.

"It's no secret that I love playing here in my backyard. I think the Aussie crowd is amazing," said de Minaur following his third-round win over Benjamin Bonzi.

"They've had my back from day dot. So I'll always cherish that.

"I think the ultimate goal is that no matter where I'm playing — whether it's court 27 at some random place — I'm going to be equally as tough to beat than on centre court here.

"Now, I think the difference is that the opponents not only have to play against me but they've got to play against me and the whole crowd, right? That's probably the difference."

This evening's match will be the first career head-to-head meeting between Djokovic and 23-year-old de Minaur.

Djokovic is wary of the world number 24, who is seeking to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in his career.

"The fact that I never faced him is also challenging for both me and him," Djokovic said.

"I think we don't know much about each other's games, but still we know each other pretty well because he's been around for quite a few years.

"I've watched him play numerous times. I know how he plays."

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