A more famous men's singles player from Serbia exited the Australian Open stage, unwittingly clearing the path for countryman Miomir Kecmanovic to make an improbable run in the tournament.
Unseeded Kecmanovic, who was slated to play Novak Djokovic in the opening round before he was deported, wonagain and found his way to the quarterfinals in Melbourne. He posted a 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-2, 7-5 win over 25th-seeded Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.
Kecmanovic, 22, isn't exactly a nobody. The 77th-ranked player in the world is experiencing his most successful run in a Grand Slam event.
"A week ago I was supposed to play the world No. 1 and didn't have much of a chance there," Kecmanovic said. "But now I'm in the last 16, so I'm happy that I was able to use this chance and that I've been playing some really good tennis."
Djokovic, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, was a landslide favorite in the opening match that instead was filled by lucky loser Salvatore Caruso. He overtook Sonego on Thursday and the draw brings forward Frenchman Gael Monfils, the 17th seed, in the quarters.
A winner in Adelaide, the 35-year-old can return to the semifinals at the Australian Open for the first time in six years. He has a win over Kecmanovic in his back pocket from an indoor match in Paris last year.
"To be honest I tried to not even remember last year. I just can say that I'm here, I'm good," Monfils said.
Spain's Rafael Nadal crashed the quarters for the 15th time, but getting past Russian Karen Khachanov for the eighth time in as many meetings was a grind for the sixth seed.
"Tonight I played against a great player and a good friend on tour," Nadal said of his 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory. "It has been without a doubt my best match since I came back. Nights like today mean everything. It's a lot of energy in my pocket to keep fighting every single day."
In one of the matches of the tournament thus far, Italian Matteo Berrettini beat Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a five-set marathon. With his white hat backward throughout the match, the 25-year-old Berrettini won in a super tiebreaker on a double fault. The 18-year-old Alcaraz narrowly missed the upset of seventh-seeded Berrettini, but opened some eyes.
"He's unbelievable. At his age, I didn't even have an ATP point,'' Berrettini said. "He's impressive. He'll only improve, playing matches like this. He's showed everyone his potential."
Third-seeded Alexander Zverev nailed 44 winners and topped Radu Albot of Moldova, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Denis Shapovalov of Canada, ranked 15th, meets the Olympic gold medalist Zverev in the quarterfinals.
Also on Friday, 19th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta posted a 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3 win over Sebastian Korda.
--Field Level Media