World no. 1 Novak Djokovic secured his 77th Australian Open victory with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 triumph over Frances Tiafoe in three and a half hours. Novak hit 26 aces and lost serve twice, delivering five breaks and avoiding a decider under a boiling Melbourne sun.
Both players had more winners than unforced errors, and it was Novak who found an extra gear when he needed it the most to move over the top and advance into the third round. Novak made a strong start, earning a break in game two and fending off two break chances in the next one to forge a 3-0 advantage.
Frances pulled the break back at love in game seven following a backhand mistake from Djokovic, who grabbed another break a few minutes later with a forehand crosscourt winner and sealed the opener with a backhand down the line winner in game nine for 6-3 after 33 minutes.
The second set lasted for over an hour, and Tiafoe matched Djokovic's pace this time, fending off three break chances and reaching the tie break that he claimed 7-3.
Novak Djokovic needed three and a half hours to beat Frances Tiafoe.
The American came from 40-0 down at 1-1 with some brave hitting to keep the serve intact and avoid chasing the result.
They both served well until the tie break, where Frances opened a 6-3 lead with a perfect drop shot. The youngster forced Djokovic's error in the tenth point right after the return to secure the set and level the overall score after 96 minutes.
The third set was even longer, and they pushed each other to the limits for another tie break. Djokovic opened a 3-0 lead and wasted more break chances in game four, which shifted momentum to Tiafoe's side of the court.
The American broke back in game five following the Serb's forehand error, serving to stay in the set at 4-5. Facing two set points, Frances landed two powerful serves to get out of jail and lock the result at 5-5 ahead of another tie break.
With no room for errors, Novak won it 7-2 thanks to a forehand winner, opening two sets to one lead after two hours and 44 minutes. Tiafoe stayed in touch earlier in the fourth set before Djokovic grabbed a break with a backhand down the line winner.
Returning at 5-3, the Serb grabbed another break when Tiafoe hit a double fault, sealing the deal after a grueling three and a half hours to move into the last 32.