2017 News

 
 

Crosscourt Shots — Jan. 19, 2017

By Kami Mattioli

Each week we'll be highlighting what's trending in the tennis world — both on and off the court — that you might have missed this week. This week's news features updates from the Australian Open.

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STUNNER

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.

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MARCH TO 23 CONTINUES FOR SERENA

With a hard-fought 6-3,6-4 win in the second round over Lucie Safarova, Serena Williams’ march to become the first player in the Open era to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles continues in Melbourne. The last time Safarova and Williams met was in the French Open final in 2015.

“It’s never easy to play in the second round someone you’ve seen in the final of the biggest stage in tennis,” Williams said. “I’m happy to have gotten through it.”

Williams will meet fellow American Nicole Gibbs in the third round.

(Photo credit: Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images)

FIRST TIME WINNER BOUNCES RADWANSKA

Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska had a tough go on Thursday after being dispatched in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, resulting in Radwanska’s earliest exit in Melbourne since 2009.

Lucic-Baroni turned in a masterful performance, winning six games in a row en route to the victory, which was her first at the Australian Open.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Lucic-Baroni said after the match. “I knew until the last point that I had to fight – there is a reason why she is number three in the world.”

The upset propels the 34-year-old Croatian to potentially become one of 2017’s compelling comeback tales. Once a phenom after making a Wimbledon semi-final and winning an Australian Open doubles title in the late 90s, Lucic-Baroni walked away from tennis for a few years. She returned to the WTA tour toward the end of the 2010 season and is currently ranked 79th.

Lucic-Baroni will play the winner of the Alize Cornet – Maria Sakkari matchup.

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#FEDWATCH

In his first Slam back from injury, Roger Federer is through to the third round after dispensing American qualifier Noah Rubin 7-5 6-3 7-6 (3).

After the match, Rubin called Federer “immortal,” explaining that “(h)e took a ball that I swear to God was past him and hit it for a winner.”

“You just have to look at that and say, ‘O.K., that’s Roger Federer for you,’ and you just move on to the next one.”

Next up for Federer is a tough test in 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych.