Just when the fans at Novak Djokovic’s match on centre court on Monday night thought they were in for an early night, the powerful Serb threw out the script that demanded complete domination in his 900th career win.
Djokovic had raced to a 6-7 2-6 lead over German Jan-Lennard Struff, but inexplicably faltered in the third set to go down 6-2 as his 29-year-old opponent found the angles to unpick the world No.2’s game.
The change in momentum seemed to shock the crowd, but normal transmission was resumed in the fourth set when Djokovic put the foot down to take the final set 6-1.
In his post-match comments on the Nine network, Djokovic said his opponent had fought hard and it was a reminder just to enjoy his tennis.
“Obviously when you are on the court, especially in my position, I am expected to win most of my matches,” Djokovic said.
“There is a lot of pressure and a lot of different emotions involved. I definitely try to remind myself to stay present and really enjoy [it].
“I’m obviously very proud of all the achievements. At the same time try to remind myself I have grateful to be still playing at a very high level, the sport that I truly love.
“I was a four-year-old and grabbed the tennis racquet for the first time. Saw it on the TV in Serbia, that doesn’t have a really tennis tradition at that time … Just everything seemed quite impossible at the time. But here we are, you know, 20, 25 years later. I can’t take things for granted. I am trying to enjoy every moment.”
There’s something about those Tigers
A few years ago Richmond footy club was a bit of a joke, having endured a premiership drought stretching back to 1980 and a revolving door of coaches and dubious recruiting decisions.
These days, after AFL flags in 2017 and 2019 it seems having a Tiger player in your midst is the new winning look.
Exhibit A is the unlikely friendship between tennis legend Serena Williams and knockabout Tiger Dustin Martin, who apparently struck up a friendship after meeting while holidaying in the Maldives last year shortly after the Tigers won the 2019 flag.
“He just happened to be there,” said Williams after her 6-0 6-3 demolition job on Czech teenager Anastasia Potapova on Monday. “We just hung out and had a blast.
“But we decided he couldn’t come to the Australian Open because he would be mobbed way too much.
If we could hang out, it would be cool. But definitely not in Melbourne Park or here; it would be way too crazy for him.’’
And if you think that’s an unlikely pairing, what about Ash Barty’s response to AAP journalist Darren Walton when asked which celebrities she’d most like to have over for dinner.
“I’d have to go athletes. I would love to pick the brain of world-class athletes, like a LeBron James even,” she said, before adding: “Kevin Bartlett would be incredible. I think he’d have some pretty cool stories.”
That’s the man AFL fans know as ‘Hungry’ the follicle-challenged goalsneak turned media commentator who did his best work on field back in the 1980s.
It’s a huge wrap for KB to beat a world of celebrities to grab the world No.1’s attention.
Mum’s got some moves too
And while Serena Williams may think having Dusty Martin in her corner might attract attention, her mum Oracene had her own moment in the sun on Monday when she was caught on TV celebrating her daughter’s first-round triumph over the Russian.
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) January 20, 2020
Spray of the day …
“I can do whatever I want with it, it’s my racquet. I can do whatever I want, I’m not breaking any rules. It doesn’t matter, it’s my racquet. I can do whatever the hell I want with it, what are you talking about? I didn’t break it – if I break it give me a code (violation) 100 per cent. I didn’t break my racquet, it’s a terrible call. Like, do your job. Do your job!”
– Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was not happy with a code violation during his first-round loss.
Fucsovics grabs the third set by the score of 6-1 and now leads by two sets to one against Denis Shapovalov.
Earlier in the set, Shapovalov got quite frustrated after receiving a code violation and started a vocal argument with Renaud Lichtenstein. #AusOpen
— Alex | Tennis 🎾 (@Alex_Boroch) January 20, 2020
The big games on day two …
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
Kyrgios finds himself in an unusual position given all the positive vibes around for his much-praised efforts to raise money for bushfire-ravaged communities. The 24-year-old carries good form into the tournament having won three of his four singles matches at the ATP Cup. Sonego enjoyed a steady rise up the rankings in 2019 and won his first ATP title, at Antalya. Kygios, seeded 23, defeated the big-serving Italian in their only previous encounter in Cincinnati last year.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Alexei Popyrin (AUS)
The flamboyant French veteran and the towering Australian rising star will play each other for the first time in what promises to be an entertaining encounter. Popyrin was just eight years old when Tsonga made his famous run to the 2008 Australian Open final and admits the Frenchman is still one of his idols.
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) v Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
Pliskova comes in with impressive form, having beaten 2019 Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka on her way to the Brisbane International title. Mladenovic didn’t make it past the second round of a grand slam last year, but her quality was on display when she beat world No.1 Ash Barty in November as France claimed a memorable Fed Cup final win over Australia.
4-Daniil Medvedev (RUS) v Frances Tiafoe (USA)
Medvedev, seeded four, looms as the player most likely outside the big three to break through with a grand slam victory, as witnessed by his 2019 tour-topping 59 wins and an epic US Open comeback that fell just short against Rafael Nadal. Tiafoe was a quarter-finalist in 2019.
Medium (40 per cent) chance of showers in the early morning. Mostly sunny afternoon. Winds southwesterly 15 to 25 km/h becoming light in the morning. Maximum 22.