In one of the least expected men’s singles second round results, Uzbekistani wild-card and world no.117 Denis Istomin caused a huge flutter by knocking out defending champion and world no.2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia. The six-time Australian Open champion Djokovic always reached at least the quarterfinals since 2007. Besides the Australian Open, this was also the earliest that Djokovic exited a major since 2008. Russia’s Marat Safin had beaten Djokovic in straight sets during a second-round match at Wimbledon. But 2008 was also the year, when Djokovic had won the Australian Open for the first time. Melbourne later became Djokovic’s happy hunting ground, where he won subsequently in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Until he ceded his world no.1 rank to Britain’s Andy Murray, the Serb has never been short of the winning obsession that kept him going over the last two years. Joining Djokovic on the exit road on fourth day were; women’s third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and men’s doubles second-seeded team of Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares. However, two former champions Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, had easy second round victories. Other third round entrants among men were; no.3 seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, no.6 seeded Gael Monfils, no.8 seeded Dominic Thiem and no.15 seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Among women, no.5 seeded Karolina Pliskova, no.6 seeded Dominika Cibulkova, no.9 Johanna Konta and no. 17 Caroline Wozniacki also progressed to the third round.
The fourth day of 2017 Australian Open reverberated with the news about Novak Djokovic’s sensational ouster. The Serb played against Uzbek wild-card Denis Istomin, whom he had beaten in their previous 5 meetings. On Thursday, however, Istomin played like a man possessed and troubled the celebrated Serb from the first set onwards. The opening game itself consumed 16 minutes and Istomin seemed to have announced his intention. The Uzbek pushed Djokovic and earned a break. But the Serb dug on his reserves to find a break for himself and forced the tiebreak. After Djokovic led 4-1 in the tiebreak, Istomin bounced back to level the scores and won on his second set point. In second set too, Istomin played with authority and held two set points in the 10th game before Djokovic briefly controlled play and took the second set. The Serb looked like carrying the late second-set surge into the third with an easy 6-2 result but fell behind 0-3 in the fourth. However once again, Djokovic assumed a semblance of control in breaking Istomin’s service. But the Uzbek still held a set point in 10th game only to give it up by hitting a forehand into the net. As the fourth set slipped to the tiebreak, Istomin took his chances and forced a decider by winning the tiebreak. The Uzbek broke Djokovic early and held that advantage all the way to win the 4 hour 48 minute battle at 7-6, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.
While Djokovic’s loss was the biggest fourth-day news, women’s singles third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland fell miserably at 3-6, 2-6 to the unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The Croatian didn’t have to work too hard against the faltering Pole and sailed with unexpected ease into the third round. Also going out of contention were men’s doubles second seeded team of GBR’s Jamie Murray and Brazil’s Bruno Soares. The duo were done in 60 minutes by South African Raven Klaasen/American Rajeev Ram 6-1, 6-4.
In an expected result on Thursday, 6-time Australian Open winner Serena Williams defeated Czech Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4. Serena now joins sister Venus in the third round. Other women player going through to the third round on Thursday were; no.5 seeded Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-0, 6-2; sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova beat Taiwanese Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 7-6; ninth-seeded Johanna Konta went through with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Japan’s Naomi Osaka and 17th seeded Caroline Wozniacki defeated Donna Vikic 6-1, 6-3. Among men; Spain’s Rafael Nadal, defeated Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-1, 6-3; men’s no.3 seed Milos Raonic of Canada beat Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 6-3, 6-4, 7-6; no.6 seeded Gael Monfils beat Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0; 8th seeded Dominic Thiem defeated Australian Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 and no.15 seeded Grigor Dimitrov defeated South Korea’s Chung Hyeon 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
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