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Beating Novak Djokovic is not always the path to glory

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
20th February, 2021
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Hyeon Chung and Denis Istomin, the last two men to beat Novak Djokovic at an Australian Open, have largely gone off the tennis radar.

A win over Novak Djokovic will secure Daniil Medvedev the world No. 2 ranking, $2.75 million in prize money and cement his reputation as the hottest player in men’s tennis.

But joining a club of just eight to beat the Serb at the Australian Open isn’t always a path to greatness.

Just ask Hyeon Chung and Denis Istomin.

The last two players to beat the eight-time champion in Melbourne have largely disappeared from the tennis radar through injury and poor form.

Korean Chung was touted as part of the rising next generation when he beat Djokovic in straight sets in a round-of-16 clash at the 2018 event.

He went on to make the semi-finals and achieve a top-20 ranking.

But coming back to defend those points the following year precipitated a rankings slide, with a back injury in 2019 hardly helping matters.

He’s now ranked 169 in the world. 
  
Istomin was a rank outsider when he beat Djokovic in the second round back in 2017. 

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At 117 in the world, he became the first player outside the top 100 to beat Djokovic at a grand slam.

After a short-term rankings boost, the Uzbek slid back outside the top 100 and is now ranked No.184 in the world.

He played a Challenger event last week, going down to world No.232 Ruben Bemelmans in the round of 16.  

Djokovic’s six other conquerors have fared somewhat better.

Stan Wawrinka used his epic five-set quarter-final victory in 2014 as something of a launch-pad for the top-end of his career.

He went on to seal his first major in Melbourne that tournament and gained the confidence to know he could beat the greats on the greatest stages – winning the French Open and US Open over the following two years.    

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got a small measure of revenge for his 2008 final loss, by downing Djokovic at the quarter-final stage in 2010 while the 17-time grand slam champion retired against Andy Roddick in 2009.

There was no shame in losing to Roger Federer in his pomp in 2007 in the fourth round when Djokovic was ranked No.15 in the world while defeats to Paul Goldstein and Marat Safin in 2006 and 2005 would only be remembered by tennis trainspotters.  

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