Djokovic, playing in his first match during the day session at Melbourne Park in over 1,000 days, looked in supreme form. Having arrived at the 112th edition of the Australian Open with a cloud of uncertainty surrounding his fitness, he looked vulnerable from the get-go.
Djokovic had also admitted to feeling "under the weather" during his opening win over Croatian teenager Dino Prizmic. But his level spontaneously improved with each round, and he served his most accomplished performance of the tournament in the fourth round.
Coming up against a fellow veteran in Adrian Mannarino, this looked far from a done deal for Djokovic. The French southpaw had beaten Stan Wawrinka, Jaume Munar, and 21-year-old Ben Shelton to reach the second week of the year's first Grand Slam.
Mannarino was playing the best tennis of his life at 35 and had just broken inside the Top 20 for the first time at the turn of the year. Testament to his credentials as a late-blooming veteran, he won each of his three matches in Melbourne in five sets.
However, it was a completely different story against the indefatigable Djokovic, who extended his winning streak in their head-to-head to five matches. Djokovic led 6-0, 6-0, 1-0 when another record appeared to be in sight.
Only five men in Grand Slam history recorded a triple bagel, the last of which happened at the 1993 French Open. But even Djokovic was susceptible to pressure and revealed after the match that he felt the "tension" emanating from the crowd and pushing him to this landmark.
"I really wanted to lose that game in the third set because the tension was building up in the stadium. I just needed to get that one out of the way so I could refocus on what I needed to do to close out the match. I played great from the first to the last point."
Mannarino ultimately saved his pride, getting on the board when he won his first game of the match in the third set. He would win two more games, but Djokovic got the break he wanted midway through the set to clinch victory in under two hours.