AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2013
Djokovic Edges Wawrinka In Five-Set Thriller
by ATP Staff|
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic kept his bid for a third consecutive Australian Open title alive on Sunday night as he edged Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(5), 12-10 in an electrifying fourth-round contest on Rod Laver Arena.
“It was one of the longest, most interesting, and most exciting matches I played in my career," said Djokovic, who is no stranger to five-set drama at Melbourne Park, having beaten Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in thrilling contests to win the 2012 title.
"All the credit to him. I feel sorry that one of us had to lose. He definitely deserved to win. But I'm just thrilled to be able to fight once again up to the last moment. I'm just really full of joy after this match."
Fifteenth seed Wawrinka put on a master class display to stun Djokovic at the start of the match. The Swiss’ backhand was sublime as he dictated the points and hit remarkable winners in a passage of play that saw him go up 6-1, 5-2. However, when his level dropped slightly in serving for a two-set lead, Djokovic pounced. The Serb seized his opportunity to reel off five games in a row, snatching the second set from Wawrinka and breaking in the first game of the third.
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Wawrinka regrouped well to break straight back, but could not regain the consistent high level that had seen him dominate the opening exchanges. Djokovic broke serve again in the ninth game before serving out.
Wawrinka refused to let Djokovic run away with the momentum, though. Despite missing early opportunities to break serve in the fourth set, the Swiss maintained his focus and in the subsequent tie-break, garnered an early mini-break advantage. He clinched the set in style on his third set point, finishing with a forehand winner.
Djokovic found himself in trouble at the start of the fifth set, but rallied from an early break down to lead 2-1. With the pendulum continually swinging, Wawrinka saved break point in the eighth game before Djokovic crucially saved four break points in the ninth game.
Both players were strong on serve until the 22nd game. Serving second, Wawrinka’s resistance finally crumbled and, after saving two match points in blistering fashion, the Swiss’ backhand eventually failed him to give Djokovic a third chance. In a pulsating 20-shot rally, Djokovic claimed victory in just over five hours with a backhand passing shot.
“These are the matches that you live for, you practise for,” said Djokovic. “You want to be on the centre court and playing on such a high level for five hours. It's incredible.”
"I think it's by far my best match I ever played, especially in five sets against the No. 1 player," declared Wawrinka. "Especially as I was dealing with myself all the five hours, trying to always find solution, trying to always fight against me and against him to stay with him. At the end I was really, really close. For sure I'm really sad.
"I think [this match is] important if I want to keep improving myself, my game, to try to come back closer to the Top 10. I need to use all the tournament that I did this week."