Istomin Records Biggest Win, Edges Djokovic In Melbourne
Uzbekistani causes major upset on day four
The Uzbekistani wild card ended Djokovic’s 15-match winning streak at Melbourne Park with a 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over almost five hours on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. He will next play No. 30 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who cruised past #NextGen ATP Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round.
"It is unreal," said Istomin. "To beat Novak in five sets, it's a great win. I'm still feeling a little bit tired. I didn't expect to be doing what I'm doing now and what I did on the court. I like the way I am playing. I feel just tired. I am not thinking, 'I just beat the World No. 2'."
Djokovic, who saved six break points in a 16-minute opening game, saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break before failing to convert two of his own chances at 7/6 and 8/7. The second seed regained control, but dropped to a 1-4 deficit in the fourth set only to stage a comeback.
Istomin, leading 5-4, held one set point opportunity on his Serbian opponent’s serve at 30/40 and later took a 5-1 lead in the tie-break, prior to requiring a further three set points to take the pair’s sixth meeting to a deciding set.
Istomin broke decisively to 30 for a 3-2 lead in the decider and the Tecnifibre-sponsored player held his nerve to complete a memorable win in four hours and 48 minutes. Djokovic, who is now 58-7 at the first major of the year, committed 72 unforced errors as he saw his perfect start to 2017 come to an end.
"All the credit to Denis for playing amazing," said Djokovic. "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. Of course, I was not pleased with my performance overall. But I have to congratulate my opponent today."
Djokovic had only previously once lost to a player ranked outside of the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings over the past seven years - when he fell to No. 145-ranked Juan Martin del Potro in the opening round of the 2016 Rio Olympics. It was also his earliest loss at a Grand Slam championship, since his 2008 Wimbledon second-round exit to Marat Safin.
It was Istomin and Djokovic's third meeting at the Australian Open, following 2010 and 2014 clash that both ended in straight sets wins for Djokovic.