Novak Djokovic’s hopes of becoming the first seven-time Australian Open winner was shattered by an inspired Denis Istomin in a five-set thriller on Thursday.
The world No. 2 fell to wild-card and World number 117 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second round of the year’s first major.
Djokovic, who has won five of the past six title in Melbourne, struggled to find his rythm, hitting 72 unforced errors and nine double faults while Istomin belted 63 winners in the match of his life.
It is the first time Djokovic, 29, has lost in the second round of a Grand Slam since 2008 at Wimbledon.
“All the credit is to Denis for playing amazing. He deserved to win,” Djokovic said.
“No doubt he was a better player in the clutch moments. He stepped it up and played aggressive, served very well, very precise, and there was not much I could do.
“Of course I was not pleased with my performance overall, but I have to congratulate my opponent today.”
Uzbek Istomin will face Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the next round.