Novak Djokovic, the six-time champion at Melbourne Park, fell on Thursday in the second round of this year’s Australian Open. Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan defeated Djokovic in a lengthy five-set match. For a reward, Istomin will next face Pablo Carreno-Busta of Spain for a spot in the fourth round. While Istomin may face fatigue issues after such a lengthy match, certainly Carreno-Busta is a beatable player for the veteran.
For Djokovic, the result truly is shocking given all of the incredible success that he has enjoyed at Melbourne Park over the years. With six titles at the event, Djokovic’s success at the Australian Open pre-dates his 2011 season when he first ascended to the World No. 1 ranking. His first title in Melbourne came almost ten years ago now when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2008 final. With his 30th birthday approaching this spring, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the Serb.
With the result on Thursday from Melbourne Park, Djokovic now has just one active Grand Slam title, that coming from Roland Garros 2016. He looks good to stay as the World No. 2 in the months ahead, but should he falter at the French Open a ranking slide would then be in order. Certainly not having some 2000 ranking points banked at the start of the season, as he so often has, could hurt the Serb immensely in the latter parts of the year. A second-round exit in a major brings only 45 points, not an amount that’s meaningful for a top-five player.
The outright winner’s market for all sportsbooks were sent into a mad scramble in the latter going of the Istomin match. The Uzbekistani broke midway through the 5th set and betting futures on the Aussie shutdown quickly.
Now that the smoke has settled, Andy Murray is a shorter-than-even favorite to win the title. Stan James have the Scot at 5 to 6 against the remaining field of 32 players. Canada’s Milos Raonic has emerged as the second favorite, a player that shared a draw to the final with Djokovic. Grigor Dimitrov, who could have faced the World No. 2 in the fourth round, now has a lighter path to the final as well. Istomin is still considered a very peripheral contender, priced at 350 to 1 with betway sportsbook to win the title. But, it must be stressed, that it’s possible that the five-set match has such a detrimental effect on his body that he actually fails to go much further in the tournament.
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It could be that Grigor Dimitrov, who won the Brisbane title a couple weeks ago, is the main beneficiary. He and Raonic could be heading toward a semifinal showdown at Melbourne Park. Rafael Nadal, at the time of writing, is also on that half of the draw. Following the Djokovic shocker, the complexion of the men’s final is now Murray or Kei Nishikori versus a yet-to-be-determined opponent.