Aaron Favila/Associated Press
Novak Djokovic was sent home from the Australian Open after losing his second-round match.
Novak Djokovic has basically owned the Australian Open for the majority of his career. He has won the championship Down Under six times, and he was the No. 2 seed in this year’s event.
However, Djokovic will not win his seventh title this year. Unseeded wild card Denis Istomin knocked him out Thursday in the second round, winning 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Istomin had defeated one top 10 player during his career prior to his match with Djokovic, and that occurred five years ago. He qualified for the Australian Open by winning an Asia/Pacific wild-card playoff.
Djokovic is normally businesslike when he plays unseeded players. However, he struggled from the start against Istomin, and a first set that lasted one hour, 25 minutes established the tone.
The Serb made 72 unforced errors and never seemed to find his rhythm in the match. He was quite magnanimous toward the victor.
“All the credit to Denis for playing amazing,” Djokovic said after the match, per Matt Wilansky of ESPN.com. “He deserved to win. No doubt, he was a better player in the clutch moments.”
While Djokovic was unceremoniously knocked out of the tournament, Serena Williams had a strong performance Thursday in defeating Lucie Safarova and advancing to the third round.
Williams picked up a 6-3, 6-4 victory at the Rod Laver Arena, taking control of the match right away. Safarova is an experienced player who has risen as high as No. 5 in the world in the past.
However, the American has dominated Safarova throughout their history. With the win in the second round, Williams has a 10-0 career record against the Czech.
Williams has beaten two talented and experienced players in her first two matches, as she dispatched Belinda Bencic in the opening round.
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12)||Jack Sock (23)||9 p.m.||Tsonga|
|Steve Darcis||Andreas Seppi||9 p.m.||Seppi|
|Andy Murray (1)||Sam Querrey (31)||9:30 p.m.||Murray|
|Stan Wawrinka (4)||Viktor Troicki (29)||11 p.m.||Wawrinka|
|Mischa Zverev||Malek Jaziri||11 p.m.||Zverev|
|Elina Svitolina (11)||Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (24)||7 p.m.||Svitolina|
|Eugenie Bouchard||Coco Vandeweghe||7 p.m.||Bouchard|
|Jelena Jankovic||Svetlana Kuznetsova (8)||7:30 p.m.||Kuznetsova|
|Angelique Kerber (1)||Kristyna Pliskova||9 p.m.||Kerber|
|Ying-Ying Duan||Venus Williams (13)||11:30 p.m.||Williams|
|Bernard Tomic (27)||Daniel Evans||TBD||Tomic|
|Lukas Lacko||Kei Nishikori (5)||3 a.m.||Nishikori|
|Tomas Berdych (10)||Roger Federer (17)||5 a.m.||Federer|
|Sorana Cirstea||Alison Riske||1 a.m.||Riske|
|Ashleigh Barty||Mona Barthel||3 a.m.||Barty|
|Anastasija Sevastova (32)||Garbine Muguruza (7)||5:30 a.m.||Muguruza|
ESPN.com; Silverman predictions
“At the end of the day, when I play players like Bencic and Safarova, they force me to play better. It forces my game from the very first day to be at a high level. So I think it’s actually good,” Williams said, per Greg Garber of ESPN.com. “You know, I needed something to start really fast. I’m not going to complain about it.”
The 35-year-old will face American Nicole Gibbs in the third round, who is the 92nd-ranked player in the world. Williams won their only previous meeting.
Top-seeded Andy Murray will be back in action Thursday night when he faces American Sam Querrey at 9:30 p.m. ET. The Scot is coming off a sensational performance in 2016 in which he won nine tournaments and earned more than $16 million in prize money.
He has a pair of straight-set victories in his first two matches, beating Illya Marchenko and Andrey Rublev.
Querrey came into prominence at Wimbledon last year when he knocked out Djokovic in the third round. In this year’s Australian Open, he defeated Quentin Halys in the first round in four sets before beating Alex De Minaur in straight sets in the second round.
Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka will be back in action against Viktor Troicki at 11 p.m. ET. The Swiss had a shaky performance in his opening match when Martin Klizan pushed him to five sets, but Wawrinka appeared to return to top form when he defeated Steve Johnson in straight sets in his second match.
Kin Cheung/Associated Press
Serena Williams has moved on to the third round.
Roger Federer, who has returned to action in the Australian Open after missing six months in 2016 following knee surgery, will face Tomas Berdych at 5 a.m. ET Friday.
Federer is the 17th seed in the tournament and defeated Jurgen Melzer in four sets in the opening round. He looked much sharper in his second-round victory over American Noah Rubin, besting him in three sets.
On the women’s side, top-seeded Angelique Kerber will face Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the third round. The German star earned more than $10 million in winning three tournaments in 2016, but she has been somewhat shaky in winning two three-set matches to open the tournament.