By Oladapo Okeowo
The Australian Open served up its first shock when Denis Istomin, world number 117, beat the defending champion and former world number one, Novak Djokovic.
The six-time winner and holder of 12 grand slams found it hard to get into his rhythm as he lost the match in five sets: 7-6 (10-8) 5-7 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in four hours and 48 minutes.
This result paves the way for Andy Murray to claim his first Australian Open after losing at five finals here (four of them to Djokovic).
Djokovic, who has only ever lost to a player outside the top 100 once, said Denis “deserves to win” as he was the better player at “clutch moments”.
Both players served aggressively as they received vocal support from the crowd, with Istomin taking the match to a deciding set with a brutal ace and raised his arms to the crowd after Djokovic sliced his final shot into the net.
“Many things came together for him today and he’s a well-deserved winner. There’s not much I could do,’’ Djokovic said.
Istomin, who broke in game five, remained strong on his own serve and raised his arms to the crowd after Djokovic sliced his final shot into the net.
NAN also reports that Denis Istomin has now reached the third round of the Australian Open three times in 11 appearances
“Djokovic is not the same Djokovic we saw this time last year, who was at the peak of his career,” two-time Australian Open finalist Pat Cash told BBC Radio 5 live.
“It’s clearly the mental edge. He’s done so much and worked so hard to grab those four Grand Slams, I think he’s just lost the edge,’’ he said.