Six time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia’s dream of a record breaking seventh title has come to a shocking and abrupt end as the second seed was beaten by wildcard entry Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in four hours and forty minutes on the Rod Laver Arena at Flinder’s Park in Melbourne.
One of the biggest upsets in Australian Open history, the match marked the first time in over a decade that Djokovic had been beaten in the first week in Melbourne. The 117th ranked Istomin had taken only one set from Djokovic in five previous meetings and had a none too impressive 1-32 record in career meetings against top ten players.
In the first set the two traded one break of serve each and Djokovic failed to capitalize on two set points in the tie-break which Istomin clinched 10-8 in the tie-break. Djokovic broke in the eleventh game of a tight second set and then raced through the third to claim it 6-2. Istomin got the first break in the second game of the fourth set, but when Djokovic broke back in the seventh it looked as though Djokovic would get past his opponent in four sets. In the ensuing tie-break Istomin raced to a 5-1 lead and finally clinched it on his third set point. Istomin got the all important break in the fifth game of the decider and held his own serve for the remainder of the match to claim his biggest career win.
All the other seeds in action advanced led by the third seed Milos Raonic of Canada who ended the hopes of Giles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4). The 2009 champion Rafael Nadal demolished the 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. The sixth seeded Gael Monfils of France beat the Ukrainian Alexander Dolgopolov in four sets, while Dominic Thiem of Austria also beat the Australian Jordan Thompson also in four sets.
The Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov who won the ATP 250 event in Brisbane leading upto the Open also prevailed in four sets against the Korean Hyeon Chung. The French duo of Richard Gasquet and Giles Simon won in straight sets, as did the Germans Alexander Zverev and Philip Kohlschreiber, the big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, David Goffin of Belgium, and the Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta.
The remaining two slots have been filled by the Spanish veteran David Ferrer who dropped the first set to the young American qualifier Ernesto Escobedo but won 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. The tall Frenchman Benoit Paire beat the Italian Fabio Fognini 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Following is the line up for the round of 32 matches to be played on Day 5 with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (1) v. Sam Querrey (31)
Mischa Zverev v. Malek Jaziri
Roger Federer (17) v. Tomas Berdych (10)
Kei Nishikori (5) v. Lucas Lacko
Stanislas Wawrinka (4) v. Viktor Troicki (29)
Andreas Seppi v. Steve Darcis
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (12) v. Jack Sock (23)
Bernard Tomic (27) v. Daniel Evans
In the women’s section of the draw Serena Williams defeated Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4, but the day belonged to the 34 year old Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni who bundled out the third seeded Agnieska Radwanska of Poland 6-3, 6-2. It has been 19 years since she made her first Australian Open.
Other seeded players to advance were Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, Australian Daria Gavrilova, the Russians Elina Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Caroline Garcia of France, Briton Johanna Konta and Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland
Unheralded Nicole Gibbs won an all American match against Irina Falconi, another American Jennifer Brady beat the Briton Heather Watson 10-8 in the third set. Maria Sakkari of Greece upset the Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in three sets. Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia upset the no. 31 seeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]