In one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament so far, the 8th seed Kei Nishikori defeated the veteran Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(10-7) in three hours and 48 minutes to reach the third round for the eighth straight time at Melbourne Park!
Ivo, the oldest player with a win at the Australian Open since great Ken Rosewall in 1978, did his best to stay in touch with much younger and better-ranked rival, blasting 59 aces and losing serve only once in the entire match!
On the other hand, Kei suffered those two breaks in sets three and four but he still found the way to bring the match home in the deciding tie break and avoid an upset. The Japanese fired 69 winners and just 17 unforced errors, needing every single good shot he could hit against the opponent who delivered fury from his initial shot once again, taking the momentum before the decider but just falling short in the end.
Kei lost only four points on serve in the opening set and he brought it home with a single break in game eight, keeping his games locked in set number two as well to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Karlovic saved a break point in game five to reach the tie break that he lost 8-6, trailing two sets to love but playing on the similar level with his rival and standing determined to fight until the very last point.
Nothing could separate them in the opening ten games of the third set and out of sudden it was Ivo who gained the advantage on the return, breaking Kei at love in game 11 before closing the set on own serve a few minutes later for a 7-5.
The Croat fends off two break points at 3-4 in the fourth set and he was on fire in the closing stages, rattling off ten straight points for another 7-5 result, stealing Nishikori's serve at love at 5-5 to make a complete comeback and force the decider.
There, he had a colossal chance to score the win, creating three break points at 4-4 that Kei successfully defended to survive and reach the match tie break that he claimed 10-7 to cross the finish line first and secure the place in the last 32.
In another super tight match, Milos Raonic took down a former champion Stan Wawrinka 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in four hours of titanic battle that has deserved to be at least the quarter-final clash. In the end, Raonic won two points more than his rival, a clear indicator of how close the match was all the time, and we have seen only two breaks of serve on each side.
Plagued with injuries in the last year and half or so, Raonic is looking very strong here in Melbourne, firing booming serves and standing tall from the baseline as well, finishing today's test with 84 winners (39 aces) and just 44 unforced errors.
Stan stood on a 66-29 ratio, which tells us enough about the quality of the encounter and the fact they could have bot gone really deep had they avoided each other in the draw. The 11th seed Borna Coric was beaten in the opening round here in the past four years but he will play in the third time now after a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Marton Fucsovics in two hours and 16 minutes.
Coric saved all four break points he faced and that gave him the confidence to push harder on the return, stealing Marton's serve four times from five opportunities to find himself in the third round. Second round results:
Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-3 7-6(6) 5-7 5-7 7-6(10-7)
Milos Raonic (CAN) vs Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 7-6(11) 7-6(5)
Joao Sousa (POR) vs Philipp Kohslchreiber (GER) 7-5 4-6 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) vs Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-2 6-3 7-6(7)
Borna Coric (CRO) vs Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-4 6-3 6-4
Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 7-6(3) 6-3 7-6(5)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs Hyeon Chung (KOR) 6-2 1-6 6-2 6-4