Novak Djokovic overcomes Australian Open scare against Frances Tiafoe
Novak Djokovic came through his first major test at the Australian Open against American powerhouse Frances Tiafoe.
The world number one, bidding for an unprecedented ninth Melbourne title, had dropped only six games as he flattened Jeremy Chardy in round one.
But a fired-up Tiafoe proved a tougher proposition, taking a second-set tie-break and going toe-to-toe with Djokovic in the third, before the Serbian battled through 6-3 6-7 (3) 7-6 (2) 6-3.
Djokovic had two points for 4-0 in the third but, seemingly struggling with the 30C temperature, he allowed Tiafoe to draw level.
Tiafoe saved two set points at 4-5, but with the 23-year-old from Maryland now also feeling the heat Djokovic pulled out a near-perfect tie-break.
Some lung-busting rallies in the fourth left both players gasping for breath and it was Tiafoe who lost his way down the finishing straight.
A time violation ultimately cost him his serve to trail 4-3 and a double-fault on match point gave Djokovic victory in three-and-a-half hours.
"It was a very tough match, it was very warm with the sun on the court and a lot of long rallies," Djokovic, who fired down 26 aces, said on court afterwards.
"I want to give Frances a hand for a great match. If I had to choose I wouldn't like to have these matches early in the week, but the matches are only going to get tougher.
"I know how to handle these circumstances, but I was lucky to get through the third set, it was anyone's game. It was high-quality tennis."
Former champion Stan Wawrinka missed three match points in a dramatic five-set loss to Hungary's Marton Fucsovics.
The 2014 winner, seeded 17, was two sets down but fought back to level and then broke back when Fucsovics served for the match in the decider.
He looked set to complete the comeback when he led 9-6 in the first-to-10 points deciding tie-break, only for Fucsovics to reel off five in a row to prevail 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6 (9).
US Open champion Dominic Thiem brushed aside Germany's Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-0 6-2 and eighth seed Diego Schwartzman dropped only five games in beating lucky loser Alexandre Muller.
Denis Shapovalov, the 11th seed, beat Australia's Bernard Tomic 6-1 6-3 6-2 to set up an enticing clash with fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
"Owen was disappointed with his performance against Scotland, like a number of players and like I was in my own performance and we're all working to improve.
"Owen's been a highly-consistent, highly-successful player for us. Like a number of players on Saturday, he wasn't at his best. I know there's a bandwagon.
"He's an outstanding player and, like any outstanding player, they can have a game where they're not at their best. Is that a reason to drop the player? I wouldn't think so.
"We are always trying to make the right assessment. We had to go through a difficult stage with (former captain) Dylan Hartley when his form was tailing off.
"We gave Dylan an amount of time to pick up his form but, due to injury and a number of other circumstances, it just wasn't right for the team.
"It's the same for anyone who's the captain of the side, they've got to keep performing at a high level.
"But having one game where they're not at the level expected is not a reason to start speculating on whether he's going to be dropped or not."
Jones defended Farrell once more when he was asked about the Lions playmaker's reluctance to launch his backline in favour of kicking.
"There are five million situations in the game and we don't coach five million situations," Jones said.
England have added props Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola to their 28-man squad at the expense of Harry Williams and Tom West.
Sinckler missed the Scotland defeat due to serving a ban for swearing at a referee, while Vunipola has been out since November with an Achilles injury. Vunipola has fully recovered and will face Italy.
"They're both exceptional players. Mako is the elder statesman of the side, an experienced player," Jones said.
"He's been training really well. He's got a lot of conditioning in him and we feel that he'll be available for selection.
"Kyle was dynamic for us during the autumn. It's good to have those two back."
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