MELBOURNE, January 19, 2017
Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic experienced a shocking second-round loss to Uzbekistan wild card Denis Istomin on Thursday afternoon.
The 29-year-old Serbian was aiming to be the first man to win the Australian title seven times, and had never dropped a set in six previous meetings against the current World No. 117.
Djokovic produced 72 unforced errors and Istomin played probably the match of his life, firing 63 winners and capitalized on four of his 14 break point opportunities.
After 4 hours and 48 minutes, Djokovic sent a service return long to give Istomin a 7-6, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 win.
January 5 – Istomin loses to world no.191 Christian Garin in Bangkok
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) 19. Januar 2017
“Whenever he needed it he came up with big serves and big plays. All I can say is, hands down. I never underestimate any opponent, it doesn’t matter which tournament I play in or what round. I have respect for everyone. Him playing that well, it’s amazing. He played above his level but you have to give him credit for that. Many things came together for him,” Djokovic had to admit.
“It’s the biggest win for me. It means so much. It makes me feel like I can beat these guys, and be on this level,” Istomin was understandably proud of his performance. The 29-year-old broke his leg in car accident in 2001 while travelling to an ITF Futures in Tashkenet and had to spend three three months in hospital. In the following he did not play tennis for two years.
“To beat Novak in five sets, it’s a great win. I still feel tired little bit. I didn’t expect what I’m doing now and what I did on the court. I like the way I am playing.” Istomin will next face Pablo Carreno-Busta of Spain.