Two-time defending Novak Djokovic survived an upset bid to advance to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday while one former champ, Stan Wawrinka, was knocked out.
Djokovic, the World No. 1 seeking his ninth Australian Open title, used 26 aces and needed three hours, 30 minutes to defeat Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3.
“It was a very tough match, very warm and a lot of long rallies,” Djokovic said on court after the match. “I want to say that Frances put up a really good fight. The matches are only going to get tougher. I was fortunate to get through the third set today. It was anyone’s game and Frances served great.”
It was the first-ever match between Djokovic and the 23-year-old American, who reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne in 2019.
On Wednesday, the match turned in Djokovic’s favor in the third-set tiebreaker, when the 33-year-old Serb took a 4-1 lead and Tiafoe couldn’t bounce back.
“I was impressed with the way he was competing,” Djokovic said of Tiafoe. “He served very well. He fought hard. I thought we both played on a pretty high level. He pushed me to the very limit.”
Next up for Djokovic is No. 27 seed Taylor Fritz, who outlasted fellow American Reilly Opelka 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2. Fritz battled through 91 winners, including 43 aces, from Opelka.
Opelka committed 73 unforced errors to 33 for Fritz in the four-hour, seven-minute match.
In his second-round match, 17th-seed Wawrinka fell behind by two sets against Marton Fucsovics of Hungary, tied the match at two sets, and then couldn’t capitalize on three set points in the fifth. Fucsovics eliminated Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (9).
In the third round, Fucsovics will meet Milos Raonic, the No. 14 seed. The Canadian defeated France’s Corentin Moutet to advance, 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.
In other action, home-country favorite Nick Kyrgios saved two match points on his way to defeating Ugo Humbert of France 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4. He will meet Austrian Dominic Thiem, the third seed, in the next round.
Thiem, the runner-up in 2020, was a straight-sets winner over German Dominik Koepfer.
Also advancing were a pair of Canadiens, 11th seed Denis Shapovalov and 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who will meet in the third round.
Other seeded players advancing in straight sets were No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany, No. 8 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 18 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and No. 32 Adrian Mannarino of France. No. 15 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 23 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia needed four sets to advance.
–Field Level Media