Miomir Kecmanovic expected his Australian Open to be shortlived when he was drawn to face defending champion Novak Djokovic in the first round, but the world number one’s troubles have seen his fellow Serbian profit with an unexpected run to the last 16.
Kecmanovic defeated 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-2, 7-5 on Thursday to advance to the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career, where he will meet Gael Monfils after the Frenchman’s win over Chile’s Cristian Garin.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Kecmanovic, who is currently ranked 77th in the world. “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, so I’m happy that I was able to use this chance and that I’ve been playing some really good tennis.
“I didn’t have much pressure just because I felt that I got a second chance, so I just wanted to use it the best that I can. I’ve obviously been showing that well up until now.”
Djokovic’s deportation due to his vaccination status left his Davis Cup team mate to face lucky loser Salvatore Caruso instead in the first round, which he won in straight sets.
Kecmanovic then notched up wins over Tommy Paul and Sonego to book his berth in the second week of the Australian Open.
The 22-year-old, who has yet to contact Djokovic since the world number one left Australia, is relishing going head-to-head with Monfils for a place in the quarter-finals as well as a chance to exact revenge.
“It will definitely be tough,” he said. “I played him last tournament in Paris (in November). It was a tough three-set match.
“For sure it’s going to be difficult. He’s been playing well. But I’ve also played really good and have this momentum going, so hopefully it will be enough to take me through.”