Djokovic survives Tiafoe scare to stay in Australian Open hunt
Pumped-up defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a serious scare Wednesday from dangerous American Frances Tiafoe, who pushed him to four gruelling sets before the world number one prevailed.
The Serbian top seed looked in control after taking the first set, but lightning-quick Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals two years ago, refused to go quietly.
He bounced back to take a close second set before Djokovic dug deep to emerge a 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 winner and continue his relentless march towards a ninth Australian Open title.
“Very tough match. when the sun was on the court it was very warm. A lot of long rallies,” said Djokovic. “A great fight from Frances, a great match on his part.
“But it’s not the first time I’ve been in that kind of situation, I know how to handle this type of circumstance.”
He will next play another American, either Taylor Fritz or Reilly Opelka.
Djokovic, who dropped only six games in his opening round clash, had never played Tiafoe, but quickly adapted.
On a hot day, with ice towels being used for the first time at the tournament, he immediately broke to race into a 3-0 lead, but some uncharacteristically poor serving allowed the energetic American back in the set.
It was a stumble that rattled Djokovic who quickly broke again, pumping his fist in the air as he screamed at his box.
Neither player gave an inch in the tight second set, with Tiafoe’s mix of power and unusual shots appearing to put Djokovic off his game as he came out on top in a tiebreak…..read more