rainn.png
Tuesday June 22nd, 2021 6:33AM

Djokovic holds off Tiafoe; Venus hobbles out in Australia

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Frances Tiafoe had never played a No. 1, had never beaten anyone in the Top 5, and now he'd just won a tiebreaker against Novak Djokovic to level their second-round match at the Australian Open.

He nodded and motioned for more noise before plonking down in his courtside chair and saying what everyone watching already knew: “I love this. ... I love it!”

That lasted right up until the pivotal moment in the fourth set, serving at 3-all, 30-all, when he walked to the side of the court to get a towel, dry his face, and didn't resume play before the countdown clock ran out. He was given a time violation by the chair umpire, and docked a serve.

He lost that game, and didn't win another.

The 23-year-old American, quarterfinalist here two years ago, threw everything he could at Djokovic. But it wasn't quite enough to beat the eight-time Australian Open champion, who won the 3 1/2-hour afternoon match 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3.

“I felt like that kind of broke the match, honestly," Tiafoe said. “And he ran off with it.

“Hats off to him, but that was a terrible ending to the match, to such a high-quality match.”

Tiafoe shook his head after finishing the match with a double-fault, then jogged to the net to embrace Djokovic. He’ll take plenty from this. He said he knows he can compete at this level.

“He pushed me to the very limit," Djokovic said. “He’s a very quick player. It’s unpredictable what comes next ... I’m really glad to overcome such a battle."

Djokovic served 26 aces, Tiafoe 23. Djokovic had the edge in terms of winners (56-49).

After assessing the stats, Djokovic said he couldn’t remember serving more aces, or seeing more serves pass him, in a match in a long time.

“Credit to him,” the 17-time major winner said, “for forcing me to feel uncomfortable.”

Djokovic also agreed in his on-court, post-match interview that Tiafoe got a tough call. It was hot and sunny — the temperature peaked at 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) — and Tiafoe had just lost a long rally.

“Those kinds of things are just unlucky," Djokovic said. “He deserved to have the first serve."

Tiafoe later said he was glad Djokovic acknowledged it, but he still thinks there needs to be “conversations" about allowing more time between points while COVID-19 pandemic restrictions mean ballkids can't hold the towels for players.

“Could I have handled it better? Yes," Tiafoe said, answering his own question. “Yeah, I mean, that just broke me. I’m out there battling world No. 1, and like he needs any more help, you know."

Djokovic will play another American in the third round after No. 27-seeded Taylor Fritz who held off Reilly Opelka 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Dominic Thiem, who lost the final last year to Djokovic but went one better to win the U.S. Open, took a short route to the third round with a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over Donimik Koepfer and will next play unpredictable Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Another U.S. Open champion, Naomi Osaka, needed only an hour to sweep Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3.

Serena Williams kept her bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title on track, making only 11 unforced errors as she defeated Nina Stojanovic 6-3, 6-0.

But a 21st trip to Melbourne Park ended painfully for her older sister, Venus Williams.

The 40-year-old Williams, a seven-time major winner making her 88th Grand Slam main draw appearance, was down 5-1 in the opening set against Sara Errani when she landed awkwardly on her ankle as she approached the net for a volley. She fought back tears before receiving treatment on the ankle, and gamely continued, hobbling between points, before losing 6-1, 6-0.

Two top 10 players went out of the women's draw: 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, coming back from 15 months out with injury, was beaten by Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan and ninth-seeded Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion and the 2019 Australian Open runner-up, lost to Sorana Cirstea

“It’s strange," Hsieh, who is ranked 71st and has a history of inconsistency, explained of her 8-2 record against top 10 players. “I normally feel more excited to play with better players.

Second-seeded Simona Halep narrowly averted an early exit, rallying from 5-2 down in the third set to beat No. 72 Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek, seventh-seeded Aryna Sabalenka and 2020 Australian Open runner-up Garbiñe Muguruza all advanced, along with Ann Li, a 20-year-old American who beat Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-6 (6).

No. 11 Denis Shapovalov, No. 14 Milos Raonic and No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime all advanced, keeping Canadian interest alive, and sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev completed the night session on Rod Laver with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 win over American qualifier Maxime Cressy.

Crowd numbers lifted on a nice, sunny day, hitting 19,900 across day and night sessions — a maximum of 30,000, or roughly 50% of capacity, are allowed through Melbourne Park under COVID-19 restrictions.

There were thousands in John Cain Arena, known by Kyrgios and his fans as the Peoples' Court, to watch the mercurial Aussie save two match points before beating No. 29 Ugo Humbert 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in a rollicking night cap full of turns and twists.

“I don’t know how I did that, honestly," Kyrgios said, thanking the parochial, vocal crowd. "It’s one of the craziest matches I’ve ever played.”

___

AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP Sports - Men's Tennis, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Djokovic holds off Tiafoe; Venus hobbles out in Australia
Eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic fended off Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach the third round at Melbourne Park
5:45AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Rep. Jamie Raskin links impeachment with personal tragedy
Congressman Jamie Raskin evoked tragedy in his own life as he argued for Donald Trump's conviction during the former president's unprecedented second impeachment trial
5:44AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Dems attempt to push through school funding, wage increase
House Democrats muscled past Republicans on major portions of President Joe Biden’s pandemic plan, including a proposed $130 billion in school relief and a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour
5:37AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Venus finishes Australian Open loss on injured ankle, knee
Venus Williams has exited the Australian Open in the second round after injuring her right ankle and left knee but continuing to play until the match was over
3:58AM ( 2 hours ago )
Mavs owner Cuban stops playing national anthem at home games
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before his team's home games
3:46AM ( 2 hours ago )
NTSB report: Pilot felt pressure to fly Kobe Bryant to game
Federal safety officials say the helicopter pilot who crashed, killing Kobe Bryant and all nine people onboard, likely was under self-induced pressure to deliver the star and his daughter and six others to a girls basketball game
12:03AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Sports
Australian Open's hard quarantine 'took a toll' on players
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka says being stuck for two weeks in a Melbourne hotel room with windows that wouldn’t open “really took a toll” in the leadup to the year's first Grand Slam tournament
12:57PM ( 17 hours ago )
Nadal, Barty advance in straight sets at Australia Open
Rafael Nadal showed no signs of a back problem that hampered his preparation for the Australian Open
5:20AM ( 1 day ago )
No holding back; Nadal through in straight sets in Australia
Rafael Nadal showed no signs of a back problem that hampered his preparation for the Australian Open as he won his first-round match against Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-1
4:16AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Tennis
The tennis crowd: players thrive with fans back in Australia
Novak Djokovic was about to respond to a question about Australian Open crowds when he paused, thought for a moment, and then asked an official if fans were still allowed into Melbourne Park for the year’s first major
4:36AM ( 3 days ago )
Serena Williams, Osaka drawn in same half at Australian Open
Serena Williams pulled out of a tuneup tournament after being been drawn into the same quarter at the Australian Open as second-ranked Simona Halep and the same half as Naomi Osaka in her latest bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title
6:19AM ( 4 days ago )
Williams withdraws from semifinals in Australian Open tuneup
Serena Williams has withdrawn from a semifinal match against top-ranked Ash Barty in an Australian Open tuneup event
5:16AM ( 5 days ago )
AP Sports - Men's Tennis
Underway at Australian Open: Serena Williams wins easily
Serena Williams had a wobbly start at the Australian Open — for one game
10:24PM ( 2 days ago )
Underway at Australian Open: Osaka easily wins opening match
Three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka took the court on the first morning at the Australian Open and quickly moved into the second round
8:48PM ( 2 days ago )
Best of the best impressed: 'Brady is the gold standard'
Tom Brady was already a member in good standing of the most exclusive club in sports — "The Best of the Best" — before he won three playoff road games to make a record 10th Super Bowl appearance
3:13AM ( 4 days ago )
AP Sports - Women's Tennis
Rep. Jamie Raskin links impeachment with personal tragedy
Congressman Jamie Raskin evoked tragedy in his own life as he argued for Donald Trump's conviction during the former president's unprecedented second impeachment trial
5:44AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Dems attempt to push through school funding, wage increase
House Democrats muscled past Republicans on major portions of President Joe Biden’s pandemic plan, including a proposed $130 billion in school relief and a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour
5:37AM ( 24 minutes ago )
2 more bodies found six weeks after Norway landslide
Norwegian authorities say they have found two more victims of one of the worst landslides in modern Norwegian history that swept away homes in a residential area
5:10AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Senators to hear opening arguments as Trump fumes over trial
Opening arguments are set to begin in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial
5:10AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Brewer Heineken to cut 8,000 jobs after pandemic losses
Dutch beer brewer Heineken says it plans to cut 8,000 staff, nearly 10% of its global workforce, as part of a cost-cutting reorganization
5:09AM ( 52 minutes ago )