Australian Open: Djokovic holds off Tiafoe, reaches 3rd round
Frances Tiafoe had never played a No. 1, had never beaten anyone in the Top 5, and now he'd just won a tiebreaker against Novak Djokovic to level their second-round match at the Australian Open.
Full of animation in his courtside chair, Tiafoe took the court and said what was obvious to everyone watching: “I love this.”
Tiafoe, a 23-year-old American who reached the quarterfinals here two years ago, threw everything he could at eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic. He pulled the crowd into the contest, too. But it wasn't quite enough, with the defending champion winning 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 in a 3 1/2-hour afternoon match on Rod Laver Arena.
The fourth set was on serve and appeared headed for another tiebreaker when Tiafoe was given a time violation on his serve. He lost his temper, and ultimately the game. He didn’t win another game in the match, which finished with a double-fault.
Tiafoe shook his head, then jogged to the net to embrace Djokovic. He'll take plenty from this.
Djokovic bowed, touched the court with his hand, and then went into his more customary celebrations.
“Very tough match. Difficult conditions. While we had sun on the court, it was very, very warm. A lot of long rallies," Djokovic said Wednesday. “I want to give a hand to Frances for a very tough fight. It was a fantastic match on his part."
Djokovic served 26 aces, Tiafoe 23. Djokovic had the edge in terms of winners (56-49) and converted five of his breakpoint chances, while Tiafoe converted two of his three.
After taking a quick look at the stats, Djokovic said he couldn't remember serving more aces, or seeing more serves pass him.
“It’s not the first time that I’m in this kind of situation, I know how to handle these kinds of circumstances," Djokovic said in his on-court TV interview. “He gave it his all."This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.