Novak Djokovic secured his 77th Australian Open victory with a close 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 win over Frances Tiafoe in three and a half hours in the second round. Novak hit 26 aces and lost serve twice, delivering five breaks and avoiding a decisive one in the scorching Melbourne sun.
Both players had more winners than unforced errors in a high-quality clash, and Novak found an extra team when he needed it to advance to the last 32. Frances kept in touch with the world's leading player in the middle. The range changes from five to eight strokes, losing ground on the shorter and longer strokes to hit the starting gate despite a valiant effort.
Djokovic got off to a good start, getting a break in the second game and defending two break opportunities in the next to forge a 3-0 lead. In the seventh game, Frances retired the break to zero after Novak's backhand error.
A few minutes later, the Serbian took another return game with a forehand cross winner and sealed the first set with a backhand on the winning line in game nine 6-3 after 33 minutes. The American was coming down 40-0 at 1-1 in the second set with some brave punches to keep serve intact and avoid chasing the result.
They both served well until the tiebreaker, where Frances opened a 6-3 lead with a perfect shot. The youngster forced Djokovic's error on the 10th point just after the return to secure the set and level the overall score in the 96th minute.
Djokovic had an outstanding 2021
Former Russian tennis player Dmitry Tursunov believes Novak Djokovic will end up with the highest number of Grand Slam titles. "I find it hard to assume that Novak won't win another Grand Slam.
He will break the record for the number of wins, that's not a problem for him. Roger has very little chance of winning another Major, given his age, style of play and condition. Rafa's game is too energy-intensive, he plays every game like it's the last.
Considering his age and health, this is a disadvantage," Tursunov said. The Russian, who coaches World No. 7 Anett Kontaveit, likened Djokovic to a triathlete and tipped the Serb to continue dominating the sport. "The three complement each other.
Djokovic has become such a strong player thanks to Federer and Nadal. He tried to find ways to overcome them, and he relied on physical preparation. He looks like a triathlete right now, he's very meticulous," Tursunov added.