Melbourne: Serbia’s 77th-ranked Miomir Kecmanovic emerged as a big winner from the Novak Djokovic saga - and capitalised on his good fortune by reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open today.
Kecmanovic was drawn to play compatriot and world number one Djokovic in the first round, but after the defending champion was deported, found himself instead facing lucky loser Salvatore Caruso.
He easily beat the Italian, and has been winning ever since.
Kecmanovic knocked out another Italian, 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego, 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 7-5 to win through to the round of 16 for the first time and will face French 17th seed Gael Monfils.
Kecmanovic’s lucky break in Melbourne has already netted him $A300,000 (US$215,000) in prize money and 180 ranking points.
“It’s unbelievable. A week ago I was supposed to play the world number one and didn’t have much of a chance there, but now I’m in the last 16,” the 22-year-old Kecmanovic said.
“I’m so happy that I was able to use this second chance and that I’ve been playing some really good tennis. I just wanted to use it the best that I can.”
Kecmanovic said he had not been in contact with compatriot Djokovic, who is back in Serbia after his deportation over his anti-vaccination status.
“I think he’s still recovering from everything and I didn’t really want to bother him. Give him his space. I’ll definitely talk to him eventually after things calm down,” he said.