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The Serbian can't believe he's been knocked out.
The Serbian can't believe he's been knocked out.
Image: Aaron Favila/AP/Press Association Images

Novak Djokovic dumped out of Australian Open by world number 117

Denis Istomin has caused the shock of the tournament in round two.
Jan 19th 2017, 8:41 AM 18,807 28

DEFENDING CHAMPION NOVAK Djokovic was sensationally knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open by Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin on Thursday.

The 117th-ranked Istomin ousted the six-time winner 7-6(10/8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 in 4hr 48min on Rod Laver Arena.

The loss marked Djokovic’s earliest Grand Slam exit since Wimbledon 2008 as he was outdone by a red-hot Istomin in four hours, 48 minutes.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion was below his best against Istomin, a player he had beaten relatively comfortably in their previous five meetings.

Istomin, who won the Asia-Pacific wildcard play-off to earn a place in Melbourne, defied his ranking with a display of incredible shot-making.

The opening game took 16 minutes in a sign of things to come, and Djokovic had to come from a break down to force a tie-break in the first set.

Djokovic took a 4-1 lead before giving up his advantage, Istomin converting his second set point as he forced his illustrious opponent into an error.

Istomin crushed 27 winners in the first set and a drop in level was expected – and came, albeit minor.

A wobbly Djokovic faced two set points in the 10th game and Istomin would rue those missed chances, the former holding then breaking before closing it out to level the match.

The third set was more like what was expected beforehand as the Serbian took control, only to give it up by quickly falling behind 3-0 in the fourth.

Brilliant defence, followed by a down-the-line winner, helped Djokovic break back before Istomin netted a forehand on set point in the 10th game.

But the Uzbek would not be denied in the tie-break, a huge ace out wide forcing a decider.

Istomin broke for a 3-2 lead in the fifth with yet another screaming winner, a backhand down the line giving him the advantage.

The extraordinary win, which set up a clash against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round, was completed with few nerves, Istomin serving out the match to 15.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has set up an enticing third-round showdown with rising German star Alexander Zverev after powering past Marcos Baghdatis.

Ninth-seeded Nadal, hoping to improve on an injury-hit 2016, was too strong and accurate for the 36th-ranked Baghdatis winning 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in 2hr 13min.

Nadal, who beat Roger Federer in the 2009 Australian final, will step up his challenge for a second title against the 19-year-old German in a draw now missing Djokovic.

“It will be a high-quality match against a potential Grand Slam winner and a future world number one,” Nadal said of his match with Zverev.

“I have no injuries and I can’t ask for more right now,” he added.

– Additional reporting from AFP

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