AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2013
Djokovic Reprises Warrior Role
by Matt Fitzgerald|
It was hard to imagine Novak Djokovic reprising the role of the warrior he played in the 2012 Australian Open final so quickly, but on Sunday night in Melbourne, the Serbian once again co-starred in a dramatic affair on Rod Laver Arena.
In a five-hour and two-minute battle, Djokovic prevailed 12-10 in the deciding fifth set over Stanislas Wawrinka. As he ripped off his shirt in celebration, the World No. 1 was sharply reminded of his epic feat 12 months ago, when he defeated Rafael Nadal in five hours and 53 minutes in the final at Melbourne Park.
“I just had a flashback of 2012 in the final,” said Djokovic. “It was maybe 45 minutes less in this match than the one 12 months ago, but it was still as exciting. I guess everybody enjoyed the match. I tried to perform my best, enjoy the moment, be in the present, and couldn't ask for more. What a match point. Unbelievable.”
Wawrinka bolted out the gates to break open a 6-1, 5-2 lead. Djokovic, who struggled early to find his footing, credited the reversal in momentum to a change in focus, not a change in footwear.
“When I was 6-1, 5-2 down, I believed that I can come back if I am two sets down. I've been in those situations before,” said Djokovic, who rallied from two sets down against Andreas Seppi in the Roland Garros fourth round last year.
“I was just outplayed by my opponent. He was better on the court for the first hour and a half, no question about it. In these circumstances, when you're not playing the way you want to play, you just try to fight and hope for the best.”
The Serbian will have a day to recover before taking on fifth seed Tomas Berdych. Despite finishing at close to 2am local time, Djokovic believes the energy he expended against Wawrinka will not affect his performance in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic takes a commanding 11-1 lead over Berdych in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series into Tuesday’s clash. The Serb’s only defeat to Berdych came three years ago in the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
“I know I can recover. I know I have it in me,” declared Djokovic. “I wasn't worried too much about the physical part. I was ready for it. I was ready to go the distance, and I've done so. Hopefully I can take that day off tomorrow and recover for the quarters.”