Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

No. 117 stupefies Djokovic

MELBOURNE, Australia — It was possible to see trouble ahead for Novak Djokovic based on all the dents in his armor from 2016. But it would have taken a creative mind to see the latest knockout blow coming from 117th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

When Istomin was asked how he would have responded if someone had suggested such a thing a couple of weeks ago, he answered, "I would have said, 'Are you crazy or what?' "

Istomin, 30, coached by his mother (Klaudiya Istomina, a top Uzbek player in the 1980s), almost did not make it here at all. His career was nearly derailed in 2001 when a truck smashed into a car carrying him to a tournament in Tashkent. His right leg was shattered; it needed to be stitched and pinned together. He played no tennis for two years. He is at this major only after earning his wild card by saving four match points in the semis of a wild-card playoff in December.

Djokovic — the two-time defending champion and second seed — is clearly not the same suffocating, pressure-proof force of personality that he has been at other triumphant phases of his career. Istomin became the latest big-hitting veteran to reap the benefits, though he still had to come up with what looked like the match of his life, delivering first serves and chutzpah when he needed them most to prevail 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

This was Djokovic's earliest defeat at a major since he lost to Marat Safin in Round 2 of Wimbledon in 2008. "All the credit to Denis for playing amazing. He deserves to win," Djokovic said.

Today, American Coco Vandeweghe was the first player into the round of 16, beating Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Defending champ Angelique Kerber beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-0, 6-4.

Commentator out over Venus remark: ESPN's Doug Adler was dropped from event coverage and apologized for how he spoke about Venus Williams' Round 2 play, saying he was describing her aggressive style as "guerrilla" tactics, not comparing her to a "gorilla."

No. 117 stupefies Djokovic 01/19/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2017 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Jaguars: Five things to watch Thursday in Jacksonville


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs have their second preseason game here Friday against the Jaguars, and here are five things to keep an eye on as Tampa Bay moves closer to paring its roster from 90 players to 53 by Sept. 3.


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. For starters: Rays at Jays, looking for some carryover


    The six runs and 13 hits the Rays posted on Tuesday were a positive, but the true test if they are out of their historically bad hitting slump will come tonight and in the coming days as they try to build on their success.

    "Hopefully,'' manager Kevin Cash said after Tuesday's 6-4 win, "there is a …

    Daniel Robertson is expected to make a third straight start tonight, likely at shortstop.
  4. What you might have missed in the second episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for another episode of The Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find behind-the-scenes insights and things you might have missed in Tuesday's second episode of "Hard Knocks," following the Bucs in …

    As the crowd recognized him and got loud, Jameis Winston jumped up and down in celebration. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
  5. Why Noah Spence could be the Bucs' X-factor


    JACKSONVILLE — Noah Spence crouched in a four-point stance, bending low like a sprinter in starting blocks. At the snap, he took one step to his right, startling Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells with his explosiveness. Wells went for the move and Spence countered with an inside swim move, flying past Wells' right …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence (57) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times