Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was knocked out of the Australian Open by 117th ranked Denis Istomin after a nearly five-hour long match, 7-6 (10-8) 5-7 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. For much of the marathon session, the Serbian star struggled to find his rhythm but appeared to bounce back by winning four games in a row in the third set. Istomin answered by taking it to a tie-break in the fourth set.
"All the credit to Denis for playing amazing. He deserves to win. He was the better player in the clutch moments,” Djokovic said. "Obviously, I was not pleased with my performance overall, but I have to congratulate my opponent. Whenever he needed — he came up with a big serve, big play."
Thursday’s loss marks the first time in nearly nine years that Djokovic has lost in the second round of a Grand Slam. The last time he exited that early was Wimbledon in 2008.
Istomin, a 30-year-old Uzbek who had never beaten a top 10 player in a Grand Slam, is no doubt a name to watch in the coming weeks. He made a few new fans with a cheeky response in his post-match interview, telling reporters that he “felt sorry for Novak.”
“I was playing so good today I surprised myself as well,” he said, while struggling to quell his emotions.
Istomin will face No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta next.