Defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was ousted by Denis Istomin on Thursday, falling 6-7, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 in the second round.
The loss is the earliest for a defending Australian Open champ since Mats Wilander fell in the second round in the 1989 tournament, and the first for the six-time winner Djokovic.
"All the credit to Denis for playing amazing, and he deserved to win," Djokovic said after the four-and-a-half hour match. "He was the better player in clutch moments. He served very well and very precise. I was not pleased with my performance overall, but I have to congratulate my opponent today."
"First of all, I feel sorry for Novak, I was playing so good today," Istomin said. "I surprised myself... It was tough, since the third set, I had cramping in my leg."
The 30-year-old Istomin, who resides in Uzbekistan, is ranked No. 117 in the world, dealt the second-seeded Djokovic his first career loss (33-1) to a player outside the top-100 in a Grand Slam. He will face No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.
"It is a bigger win for me, it means so much, I feel like I can play with these guys and be on the same level," Istomin said after thanking his mother and the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.