When the Australian Open draw was first released, Kecmanovic was scheduled to play Djokovic in the first round. But on the eve of the tournament starting, the 20-time Grand Slam winner’s visa was canceled and he was deported, and suddenly, instead of playing Djokovic — who has almost unbeatable in Melbourne — the 22-year-old was scheduled to face a so-called lucky loser.
And Thursday, Kecmanovic continued his dream run in defeating 25th-seeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego, which has extended his stay in Melbourne until at least the fourth round — a berth that will net him at least $237,000.
“A week ago I was supposed to play the world No. 1 and didn’t have much of a chance there,” Kecmanovic said. “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.”
Had Djokovic been allowed to stay in Australia, the world No. 1 would likely have beaten his compatriot, and instead of pocketing nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars, Kecmanovic would have walked away from Melbourne with just $74,000.
“I didn’t have much pressure just because I felt that I got a second chance,” Kecmanovic said. “So I just wanted to use it the best that I can.