Australian Open Day 4 Men’s:
Novak Djokovic won a replay of the 2008 Australian Open final, lasting into the early hours of Friday on Thursday, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the third round.
Top seed and world No. 1 Djokovic turned in an untroubled performance to repeat his dismissal of the Frenchman from 11 years ago here.
That success marked the first of the Serb’s 13 trophies at the majors.
Tsonga is fighting to come back after 2018 knee surgery which dropped his ranking to 177; he has still defeated Djokovic six times in their series, the last in 2014.
“You could feel tension on court, we were both going through a lot of emotions,” Djokovic said. “I needed to keep the focus to start in the best possible way.
“I gained confidence in the third set; Jo has been struggling with injuries and his ranking does not do him justice.
“But he has always been a top players in my eyes.”
Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem had to retire against 19-year-old Alexei Popyrin, handing over a 7-5, 6-4, 2-0 victory to the teenaged Sydney wildcard.
Thiem, seeded sixth, never looked to be in for the win, with his 2017 Paris junior champion opponent taking complete charge.
Popyrin had never won a Grand Slam match prior to this week. he came to Melbourne with first-round defeats at tune-up events in Brisbane and Sydney.
“It’s never easy winning like this,” Popyrin said. “This is unbelievable. he is a Grand Slam finalist and Top 10 player.
“I always thought I was in the match, but after I won the second set, it began to kick in that I could maybe win the match.
“I love playing in big arenas with a crowd like this; my goal now is to break the Top 100,” the No. 149 said.
Japan’s seventh seed Kei Nishikori kept one of his Grand Slam records intact, winning a 26th career match (without a loss) from two sets up as he beat Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who went down with 59 aces a month before turning 40.
Asia’s top player has won all 26 times he’s gone up two sets; he also stands 20-6 in career five-setters – two of which he has played this week. Nishikori said his win was in doubt until the end. “He almost had the match, especially in the fifth set, it was really tough match that could have gone either way.
“I don’t know how I managed, but I’m very happy to win today. This means a lot.”
Karlovic had been bidding to become he oldest man to reach the Melbourne third round since Ken Rosewall did it at age 44 in 1978.
2014 champion Stan Wawrinka put up a fight but was taken down on tiebreaks as Canadian Milos Raonic produced a four-hour effort, winning 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(11), 7-6(5).
The Swiss is trying to regain the form which took him to three Grand Slam titles after 2017 knee operations.
“For sure it’s frustrating to lose to guys, especially in a match with four tiebreaks,” Wawrinka said. “The level today was quite good.
“I’m happy if I look the big picture. I’m happy with my level, the way I was moving, the way I’m playing in general.
“But I missed on a few little points that could have changed the match.”
2018 semi-finalist Hyeon Chung was knocked out 2-6, 6-1, 2-6, 4-6 by France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert; Halle champion Borna Coric, who beat Roger Federer in that German final on grass, advanced quietly over Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
Italy’s Fabio Fognini, the No. 13 who said that he will no longer be concerned with trying to crack the Top 10, advanced over Argentine Leo Mayer 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5).