|Novak Djokovic is on target for his third grand slam win in a row [GALLO/GETTY]
Defending champion Novak Djokovic blitzed his way into the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday, conceding just two games as big guns Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also eased through.
The Serbian top seed, yet to drop a set in Melbourne as he chases a third consecutive grand slam title, destroyed hapless Mahut 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 in just 74 minutes.
Last year's beaten finalist Murray, the British fourth seed, had no trouble dispatching Frenchman Michael Llodra in a night match that featured some crowd-thrilling rallies.
And French sixth seed Tsonga, who lost to Djokovic in the 2008 Melbourne final, was also in a hurry, demolishing Portugal's Frederico Gil, ranked 107th, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
Djokovic, who set the tennis world alight in 2011, barely broke sweat as he reached the round of 16 in Melbourne for the sixth straight year.
He looked in ominous form as he set up a clash with two-times grand slam champion Lleyton Hewitt after the Australian's gutsy four-set win over Canadian power-server Milos Raonic in the night match on Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic leads Hewitt 4-1.
Mahut, who shares the record for the longest-ever tennis match of 11 hours and five minutes with John Isner at Wimbledon two years ago, struggled with a left knee injury on his 30th birthday.
"Credit to Nicolas. Obviously, he had some strapping around his knee and I felt sorry for him," Djokovic said.
"Evidently he was not moving well, he was not able to perform his best, but he didn't want to retire and he wanted to stay all the way so I wish him happy birthday."
Tsonga does it alone
Djokovic, who broke Mahut's serve eight times and made only eight unforced errors in the 20 games, is bidding to become the fifth man to win three consecutive grand slams after winning Wimbledon and the US Open last year.
Murray was also in commanding form, seeing off 46th-ranked Llodra 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 and will play Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the round of 16. He was always in control of the erratic Frenchman, breaking six times and hitting an
impressive 48 winners.
Meanwhile Tsonga, the top-ranked French player, said not having a coach had done him no harm at all after seeing off Gil to set up a match with Japan's 24th seed, Kei Nishikori.
"I'm here because maybe I had a coach, but now I feel like I have to follow my opinion maybe a bit more"
Tsonga parted company with long-time coach Eric Winogradsky last April and has since been on his own, but in that time he has reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open quarter-finals.
After putting Gil to the sword on Saturday, the 26-year-old Tsonga said he saw no pressing need to recruit a replacement mentor.
"I mean, it's not the first one (tournament without a coach), so I feel good. I'm OK," he said.
"You can also improve your game by yourself. I've improved a lot.
"I'm here because maybe I had a coach, but now I feel like I have to follow my opinion maybe a bit more."
Tsonga, unbeaten in eight matches this season after winning his eighth ATP singles title in Doha, said he intended to go it alone until results forced a rethink.
Gil was the first Portuguese man to reach the third round at a grand slam.