Serbian Janko Tipsarevic has won his way into the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career after beating No. 32 seed Julien Benneteau 3-6 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-3 on Friday.
The eighth seed’s journey through the opening three rounds has been anything but easy. Tipsarevic had to face crowd favourite and former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the first round, winning in three tough sets in front of a packed crowd on Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.
Next up for Tipsarevic was Slovakian Lukas Lacko, who fought back from a two-sets-to-love deficit to push Tipsarevic to five sets in a marathon second round clash that lasted just under four hours on Wednesday.
His task was even greater against Benneteau, who took a two sets to one lead before Tipsarevic eventually prevailed in three hours and 29 minutes.
The odds were stacked against Benneteau, who had not beaten his opponent in their two previous matches and had never progressed past the third round at Melbourne Park in eight attempts. He was also trying to snap a run of five consecutive third round losses at a major.
Benneteau gallantly pushed the world No. 9 the whole match, saving four match points in the final set and leaving everything on the court.
“It really could have gone either way, I really consider myself lucky to be the winner,” Tipsarevic told a capacity crowd on Margaret Court Arena after the match.
In what was a high-quality affair, Tipsarevic showed his dominance from the baseline, while Benneteau’s all-court game was impressive, winning more than 60 per cent of points when he ventured to the net.
Little separated the two players all match, with Tipsarevic hitting 13 aces to Benneteau’s 12 and having 48 winners to his opponent’s 47.
Tipsarevic won a total of 138 points to Benneteau’s 136, but in the end got the ones that mattered most and now lives to fight another day.
With today’s win, Tipsarevic becomes only the second Serbian male to reach the fourth round at all four grand slams. World No. 1 and two-time defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was the first player to achieve the feat.
“I'm really wanting to go deep into the tournament, potentially playing Nicolas Almagro on the heat, my legs are going to feel the five‑set matches which I played in the last two rounds,” he said.
“The weather in Australia, I have to say it's crazy. You don't know what you are going to get. I mean, three days ago it was really cold when I played Lacko. Two days ago it was like 70 degrees Celsius on the court. Today was beautiful, but it was really, really windy. Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow? Probably we'll have rain.”