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Djokovic: "I Lost To A Better Player"

Melbourne, Australia

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic was edged out in the quarter-finals.

Novak Djokovic had only the highest praise for Stanislas Wawrinka after losing their epic quarter-final clash on Tuesday night at the Australian Open. The five-set defeat saw a number of streaks end for the Serb, who has been on a remarkable run of form both on the ATP World Tour in the past five months and Down Under for the past four years.

But despite surrendering his three-year reign at Melbourne Park, Djokovic was philosophical in defeat, remembering the many epic battles he has had on Rod Laver Arena. The Belgrade native defeated Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final, which at five hours and 53 minutes, was the longest Grand Slam final on record. A year later, he was pushed to 12-10 in the fifth set by Wawrinka in the fourth round before triumphing.

“It’s an amazing court, probably the court where I had the most excitement throughout all my career,” said Djokovic. “Matches with Rafa, with Stan, last year, this year, some epic battles. I’ve won many trophies in Australia, on Rod Laver Arena. I love that court. These are the kind of matches that you work for, you live for, you practise for. Unfortunately somebody has to lose in the end. This year it was me. I lost to a better player.”

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After winning his first major title at the Australian Open in 2008 (d. Tsonga), Djokovic had reigned Down Under from 2011-13, beating Andy Murray in last year’s final. The Serb was also on a 28-match winning streak since losing the US Open final last year to Nadal.

Djokovic Streaks Come To An End
• 28-overall match winning streak (since loss to Nadal in US Open final)
• 25-match winning streak at the Australian Open (since loss to Tsonga in five sets in quarter-finals in 2010)
• 14 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances (since QF loss to Melzer in five sets at Roland Garros in 2010)
• 14 consecutive wins over Wawrinka (last loss in 2R Vienna in 2006)
• 13 consecutive Top 10 wins (last loss to Nadal in US Open final)

“Well, I have to be very proud of my accomplishments in my whole career, and especially at this tournament,” acknowledged Djokovic. “This is definitely by far the most successful Grand Slam [for me]. I've been enjoying Australia, enjoying the support here and the conditions. I can't wait to come back next year.”

Djokovic had beaten Wawrinka 14 times in a row going into the clash and led their FedEx ATP Head2Head record 15-2. In addition to their epic fourth-round clash in Melbourne last year, the pair had also met in the US Open semi-finals, which was another five-set battle. 

“He's in a great form,” said Djokovic of Wawrinka, who qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time last year after a career-best campaign. “In the past 15 months he's had his best results. He's established now in the Top 10. He's been winning against top players in big tournaments.

“So he knows how to play now on the big stage. You could feel that with his game. He's really taking it to the opponent and stepping in. When you're playing like this, the only thing I can say is 'congratulations'. I can say I was lucky with some shots last year in our match. This time it was him that had luck a little bit. But this is sport. He showed his mental strength and he deserved to win. 

“One thing I can be proud of is that I gave my best,” continued the right-hander. “It wasn't enough.  But, again, I know that I fought all the way through and laid my heart out there. It's a battle. One of us has to lose. He was, as I said, a better player. He stepped in and he won the match.”

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