American "lucky loser" Amer Delic was very close to a win over third-seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Bosnian-born Delic, ranked 127, took the second set and forced a fourth-set tie-break before the Serbian finally won, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a scare against American lucky loser Amer Delic to reach the Australian Open round of 16 on Friday.
Bosnian-born Delic, ranked 127, shocked Djokovic when he took the second set and forced a tense fourth-set tie-break before the Serbian third seed won 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
Djokovic stressed his admiration for Delic after the ethnically charged match.
"I have big respect for Amer, we've known each other for a long time," Djokovic said.
"He absolutely deserved to be here. He played great tennis today and he has one of the biggest serves out there. It was difficult for me to return and find rhythm and he played very well to take it to four sets."
Djokovic, who won his only Grand Slam title here last year, is the first top-four player to drop a set but remains on course for a semi-final with three-time champion Roger Federer.
In the fourth round the Serb will face either American 23rd seed Mardy Fish or 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis, who play later.
Delic was bidding to become the first "lucky loser" to reach the Open's last 16. After failing to come through qualifying, he was given his chance when Germany's Nicolas Kiefer pulled out injured.
Delic, 26, had appealed for calm before the match after abusive chanting marred his earlier win over France's Paul-Henri Mathieu.
The Australian Open gained an unsavoury reputation for ethnic clashes after Serbian and Croatian fans attacked each other flagpoles, bottles and boots in 2007.
Last year, police used pepper spray to subdue rowdy elements of the crowd watching a match between Konstantinos Economidis of Greece and Chile's Fernando Gonzales.
Men's singles, 3rd round results :
Marin Cilic (CRO x19) bt David Ferrer (ESP x11) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-4
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG x8) bt Gilles Muller (LUX) 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-3, 7-5
Novak Djokovic (SRB x3) bt Amer Delic (USA) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Tommy Robredo (ESP x21) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-1, 6-3, 6-2
Andy Roddick (USA x7) bt Fabrice Santoro (FRA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Date created : 2009-01-23