Novak Djokovic pleased to come through ‘high-quality’ encounter against Frances Tiafoe in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic came through his first major test at the Australian Open against American powerhouse Frances Tiafoe.
The world No 1, bidding for an unprecedented ninth Melbourne title, had dropped only six games as he flattened Jeremy Chardy in round one.
But a fired-up Tiafoe proved a tougher proposition, taking a second-set tie-break and going toe-to-toe with Djokovic in the third, before the Serbian battled through 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.
Djokovic had two points for 4-0 in the third but, seemingly struggling with the 30C temperature, he allowed Tiafoe to draw level.
Tiafoe saved two set points at 4-5, but with the 23-year-old from Maryland now also feeling the heat Djokovic pulled out a near-perfect tie-break.
Some lung-busting rallies in the fourth left both players gasping for breath and it was Tiafoe who lost his way down the finishing straight.
A time violation ultimately cost him his serve to trail 4-3 and a double-fault on match point gave Djokovic victory in three-and-a-half hours.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 10, 2021
“It was a very tough match, it was very warm with the sun on the court and a lot of long rallies,” Djokovic, who fired down 26 aces, said on court afterwards.
“I want to give Frances a hand for a great match. If I had to choose I wouldn’t like to have these matches early in the week, but the matches are only going to get tougher.
“I know how to handle these circumstances, but I was lucky to get through the third set, it was anyone’s game. It was high-quality tennis.”
Former champion Stan Wawrinka missed three match points in a dramatic five-set loss to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.
The 2014 winner, seeded 17, was two sets down but fought back to level and then broke back when Fucsovics served for the match in the decider.
He looked set to complete the comeback when he led 9-6 in the first-to-10 points deciding tie-break, only for Fucsovics to reel off five in a row to prevail 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11-9).
US Open champion Dominic Thiem brushed aside Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 and eighth seed Diego Schwartzman dropped only five games in beating lucky loser Alexandre Muller.
Denis Shapovalov, the 11th seed, beat Australia’s Bernard Tomic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 to set up an enticing clash with fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
‘It was nerve-racking, it was so intense’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas after battling past Alexander Zverev
Stefanos Tsitsipas prevailed in five sets against Alexander Zverev.
‘I’m just going to have fun,’ says Barbora Krejcikova as she looks to win a French Open double
Krejcikova will feature in singles and doubles finals.
‘There is a real buzz of anticipation,’ says Tim Henman ahead of Wimbledon return
The 2020 Championships were cancelled due to Covid-19.
Johanna Konta edges closer to ending her title drought after reaching Viking Open semi-finals
Johanna Konta two wins away from securing her first WTA Tour title since 2017.
Roger Federer ‘pretty positive about his chances’ as he looks to step up a gear on grass
“I’ve only seen improvement, no setbacks,” says Roger Federer.
2021 French Open women’s final info, form, betting and preview: Barbora Krejcikova-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
All the info ahead of the 2021 French Open women’s final.
Tennis365’s live scores and results centre: Follow day three from the 2021 French Open here…
Catch the live action from Roland Garros with our scores centre…
Maria Sakkari laments ‘rookie mistake’ during French Open semi-final, but vows to ‘learn from it’
“Today’s loss hurts a lot because I was so close,” says Sakkari.
Boris Becker’s tip to Novak Djokovic ahead of Rafael Nadal clash: ‘Go hard at the Spaniard’s forehand’
Boris Becker shares thoughts on Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal semi-final.
French Open day 12: Maria Sharapova shows love to Barbora Krejcikova and a silver lining for French tennis
The story of the 12th day of action at Roland Garros.