Denis Istomin achieved at the Australian Open, what he would have dreamed of all this life, from the first time he picked up the tennis racquet. To be on the Center Court and exulting in front of a capacity crowd, winning over a top ranked player.
When he finally walked off court after upsetting Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open last week; which was without any doubt the biggest win of his career; he must have felt vindicated, at all those years of hard work put in, to get to where he is today.
Klaudiya Istomina; Denis’s mother and coach might be due a raise after her son’s stunning 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win over Djokovic in the second round on Thursday.
Not only was Istomin just 1-33 in his previous matches against top-10 players (the only win coming against David Ferrer at Indian Wells in 2012), he was also ranked a lowly No. 117 after a demoralizing year punctuated by frequent losses.
His ranking was so low, in fact, the 30-year-old Istomin had to win the Asian AO Wild Card Play Off tournament in China to gain entry to the 2017 Aussie Open.
Istomin was nearly forced to give up tennis after a serious car accident in Uzbekistan when he was 14. He was in the hospital for three months and the doctors doubted he would be able to play at the elite level. But two and a half years later, Istomin picked up his racket never to keep it down again.
Novak Djokovic has taken his second round defeat to wildcard Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan rather stoically, saying that he will not think too much about it.
The 30-year-old Uzbek journeyman defeated the six-time tournament winner 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a match that spanned nearly five hours.
Istomin, who had a 0-5 record against Djokovic before his victory, believes his attitude to the match was the reason he came out on top. If you don’t think you have a chance, there is no reason to come on court,” Istomin said in the post-match press conference.
The former world no.1 Djokovic has lost just twice to players outside the top 100 in the past seven years. But in a telling indictment of his recent slump, both of those have come within the past six months having suffered defeat to no. 145 Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“When your family is part of your team, it’s great. I was lucky that my mother is coaching me,” he said, before adding with a smile, “The (other) good thing that I don’t need to pay the coach extra, you know. Everything to my mother.”