There was only one seeded upset on the men’s side Thursday at the Australian Open, and it was a doozy.
Unseeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who was 1-33 against Top 10 players in his career, turned that around when he ousted No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic in a match that went the full distance 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in Melbourne.
“I didn’t expect what I’m doing now and what I did on the court,” said the dazed 30-year-old, who needed a wildcard to get into the tournament, after the match. “I like the way I am playing. I mean, I feel just tired. I don’t think about that I win against No. 2 in the world.”
Djokovic, up two sets to one, let the fourth set slip away in a tiebreak then went down an early break in the fifth. In his post-match conference he faced reporters who questioned his intensity during the match.
“There was intensity, of course,” Djokovic said. “We played four-and-a-half hours. It’s just that it’s one of these days when you don’t feel that great on the court, don’t have much rhythm, and the player you’re playing against is feeling the ball very well…All the credit to Denis for playing amazing. He deserved to win. No doubt, he was a better player in the clutch moments. He stepped it up, played aggressive. Served very well, very precise. There’s not much I could do.”
With the bottom section of the draw now wide open, Istomin will next face No. 30 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated Brit Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. Other winners Thursday in that section were No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 18 Richard Gasquet, who will next face off. Dimitrov defeated South Korea’s Chung Hyeon 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, while the Frenchman rolled through Argentine Carlos Berlocq 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
Top 10 players through to the third round were No. 3 Milos Raonic who out-served Gilles Muller 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4); No. 6 Gael Monfils who needed four sets to subdue the Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0; No. 8 Dominic Thiem who held off Aussie Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-4; and in the final night match No. 9 Rafael Nadal who defeated old foe Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
Raonic revealed after his match that he’s fighting off illness.
“I started feeling a little bit of a cough, but I didn’t think much of it, two days ago after my match, right before bed,” he said. “Yesterday I was okay. I practiced normally and everything. I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I’m on the way up from this.’ Then this morning, I felt pretty bad waking up. Didn’t warm up much. Just came out with the sort of idea of put everything into the match, try to solve it, understand the importance of the mental side of things in that situation.”
Into the third round were additional seeded winners No. 11 David Goffin who buried Radek “The Worm” Stepanek in straights, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 20 Ivo Karlovic, No. 21 David Ferrer, No. 24 Alexander Zverev, No. 25 Gilles Simon, and No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Raonic will next meet Simon, and Nadal will have a delicious challenge for fans against the German riser Zverev.
“It’s going to be a spectacular night,” Zverev said regarding the prospect of playing Nadal, after roughing-up American riser Frances Tiafoe in straight sets. “I’m looking forward to that match.”
Raonic says he’ll attempt to stay out of the Frenchman Simon’s web of long rallies and off-putting cadences.
“He’s going to be there really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm,” Raonic said. “Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won’t have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots. I’ve got to serve well and I’ve got to be aggressive and I’ve got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.”
Friday in Melbourne will offer a smorgasbord of top-seeded tests including (10) Tomas Berdych vs. (17) Roger Federer, (4) Stan Wawrinka vs. (29) Viktor Troicki, (12) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (23) Jack Sock, (1) Andy Murray vs. (31) Sam Querrey, and (27) Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic vs. Brit Daniel Evans.
You Might Like:
Petra Kvitova Says It’s Normal For Her To Get Sick In The U.S.
After Losing To Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka Said He’s Been Sick The Last 10 Days
Sick Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Abu Dhabi Final; Nadal Beats Wawrinka
Nick Kyrgios: I Need To Get Away From Tennis, Delete My ATP App, Play Video Games And Chill!
Murray Opens Bid For First Indian Wells Title Tonight; Djokovic, Sick Nadal Win Doubles