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Thursday, 19 January 2017 14:14

Tennis: World No. 117, Istomin, stuns No. 2 Djokovic

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Denis Istomin celebrating his famous win over Djokovic Denis Istomin celebrating his famous win over Djokovic Credits: www.telegraph.co.uk

World Tennis Number 2, Novak Djokovic, has suffered a shocking defeat in the hands of Denis Istomin, ranked Number 117.

In 13 appearances at the Australian Open, Djokovic had won the title six times and never lost to anyone ranked lower than No. 68 in the world. So his 7-6, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 defeat at the hands of No. 117 Denis Istomin was a true bolt from the blue.

With Djokovic’s early and shocking exit, the Andy Murray looks jut in a pole position to snatch home the coveted trophy at the end of tornament.

It wasn’t as if Djokovic was playing terrible tennis. There were times when he seemed to plug fully into the contest and achieve that “Thou shalt not pass” consistency for which he is justly famed.

But there were also moments when he coughed up cheap errors and allowed Istomin – who was producing the match of his life – to gain confidence and belief. “I feel sorry for Novak,” said a weepy Istomin in his on-court interview, “because I was playing so good today.”

The result removes the man who has beaten Murray in five of his last six appearances at the Australian Open, and creates a sense of opportunity for the rest of the field as well. Rod Laver Arena has felt like Djokovic’s front room ever since he won here in 2008. But he admitted after the match 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.”

Istomin – a 30-year-old who reached a peak ranking of No. 33 - deserves huge credit, particularly for the way he cranked up the pressure in the deciding set. He was living with Djokovic from the baseline, and actually outhitting him with a series of aggressive attacks up the line. And his serve was a devastating weapon, not just for the 17 aces he sent down but for the timing of them. At 6-5 in the fourth set tie-break, he seized the moment with a perfect bomb out wide.

“All the credit to Denis for playing amazing,” said Djokovic in a post-match press conference that showed off his statesmanlike qualities. “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, you know, I have to congratulate my opponent today.”

"It's a tennis match. On a given day, you can lose. Nothing is impossible.

“In the game of tennis, one guy beats the other guy.”

Read 683 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 January 2017 20:50

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