Melbourne: Frances Tiafoe had never played a No. 1, had never beaten anyone in the top five, and now he'd just won a tiebreaker against Novak Djokovic to level their second-round match at the Australian Open.
Full of animation in his courtside chair, Tiafoe took the court and said what was obvious to everyone watching: "I love this."
Tiafoe, a 23-year-old American who reached the quarterfinals here two years ago, threw everything he could at eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic. He pulled the crowd into the contest, too. But it wasn't quite enough, with the defending champion winning 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 in a 3 1/2-hour afternoon match on Rod Laver Arena.
The fourth set was on serve and appeared headed for another tiebreaker when Tiafoe was given a time violation on his serve. He lost his temper, and ultimately the game. He didn't win another game in the match, which finished with a double-fault. Tiafoe shook his head, then jogged to the net to embrace Djokovic. He'll take plenty from this.
Djokovic bowed, touched the court with his hand, and then went into his more customary celebrations.
"Very tough match. Difficult conditions. While we had sun on the court, it was very, very warm. A lot of long rallies," Djokovic said Wednesday.
Djokovic served 26 aces, Tiafoe 23. Djokovic had the edge in terms of winners (56-49) and converted five of his breakpoint chances, while Tiafoe converted two of his three.
Dominic Thiem, who lost the final here last year to Djokovic but went one better to win the U.S. Open, eased through the second round with a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over Donimik Koepfer.
Three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, wasted a big lead in the fifth-set tiebreak, and three match points, before losing 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (9) to Marton Fucsovics. Five unforced errors in the last seven points of the tiebreaker cost him the match. Serena Williams kept her bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title on track, making only 11 unforced errors as she swept Nina Stojanovic 6-3, 6-0.
But a 21st trip to Melbourne Park ended painfully for her older sister, Venus Williams.
The seven-time major winner was trailing 1-5 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.
Former U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu's power was no match for Hsieh's shotmaking in a second-round upset, 6-3, 6-2.
Another Canadian mounting a comeback also lost. Rebecca Marino, a former top-40 player competing in a major tournament for the first time in eight years, was beaten by No. 19-seeded Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 7-5.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the 2019 Australian Open runner-up, lost to Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Garbiñe Muguruza, the Australian Open runner-up last year, defeated Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 6-1.
Ann Li, a 20-year-old American, reached the third round for the second major in a row by beating Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-6 (6). No. 7-seeded Aryna Sabalenka eliminated Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (5), 6-3. In men's play, No. 11 Denis Shapovalov beat veteran Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and his fellow Canadian Milos Raonic held off Corentin Moutet 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.