Defending champion Novak Djokovic has crashed out of the Australian Open after an epic battle with Denis Istomin that saw the six-time champion beaten 7-6 (10-9) 5-7 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 on Thursday.
The world No. 2 had won the Melbourne event in five of the last six years but was pushed throughout the match that lasted close to five hours by Istomin, who eventually found a way through to hand Djokovic his earliest exit in the annual tournament since 2006.
The tie saw Istomin playing at an unbelievably high level, with the first set lasting an incredible one hour and 25 minutes. Djokovic largely matched him in what will go down as the greatest win of his career.
In a match where the momentum just kept swinging, the World No. 117 ended the World’s No. 2’s hopes of retaining the title he won last year at the Melbourne Park.
Istomin will face Pablo Carreno Busta in the next round after the Spaniard knocked Kyle Edmund out.
“I surprised myself,” Istomin admitted during an on-court interview in the wake of his win.
“First of all, I feel sorry for Novak. I was playing so good today. I want to thank my team. Mum [his coach Klaudiya Istomina] did a good job.
“So much emotion, I cannot hold it.”
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