AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014
Wawrinka Edges Djokovic In Classic
by ATP Staff|
Stanislas Wawrinka held his nerve to win an epic five-set battle with Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night in Melbourne, prevailing 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 to reach his first Australian Open semi-final and end the Serb’s three-year reign Down Under.
The Swiss reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open last year, but was beaten in five sets by Djokovic. He had also fallen to the Serb 12-10 in the fifth set of their Australian Open fourth-round clash 12 months ago. But Wawrinka overturned a 2-15 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Djokovic tonight, breaking the Serb in the final game to clinch victory in four hours. He joins Roger Federer as the only two Swiss men to reach multiple Grand Slam semi-finals.
"I'm really happy. I'm excited," said Wawrinka. "It was more or less the same feeling as during the match last year. The beginning was not that easy, but then I started to play really well. It was important to stay with me. After losing two times against him in Grand Slam in five sets, I'm really happy to take that one. It's great for me."
As he looks to reach his first major final, Wawrinka will take on Tomas Berdych, whom he has an 8-5 record against, including a four-set victory when they met in the US Open fourth round last year.
"It's for sure a big chance," said Wawrinka. "Berdych is playing well since the beginning of the tournament. He's going to be a tough player to beat. He already made one final in a slam. He already made the semi-finals in every Grand Slam.
"He's really close to the top, top guys. It's going to be a tough battle."
The 26-year-old Djokovic was contesting his 19th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and saw his 25-match winning streak at Melbourne Park come to an end. After winning his first Grand Slam championship in Melbourne in 2008 (d. Tsonga), the Belgrade native had won three successive titles from 2011-13.
Djokovic suffered his first loss since the US Open final, when he was beaten by Rafael Nadal. The right-hander had gone on to win 28 matches in a row, lifting trophies in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
"He served extremely well from the beginning to the end," said Djokovic. "Every time he was in trouble, he was coming up with big serves. He took his opportunities. He deserved this win today. I congratulate him absolutely. There is nothing I can say. I gave it my best. I gave it all. I tried to come out as the winner. I tried to fight till the last point as I did in a very similar match we did last year fourth round, same court. But it wasn't to be this time."
World No. 2 Djokovic took advantage of an error-strewn first set from Wawrinka, winning five games in a row from 2-2 to clinch the opener and start the second set.
Wawrinka halted Djokovic’s run of games as he reeled off four straight points from down 0/30 on serve in the second game, and nearly broke Djokovic in the next game, thwarted on three break points. The Swiss took his chance at the second time of asking, though, breaking Djokovic for a 4-3 lead before holding on to level the match.
Building on his momentum, Wawrinka broke for a 2-1 lead in the third set and would win four games in a row to take a commanding 4-1 lead. After a tentative start, his backhand was finding its mark and Djokovic’s attempts to mix up the play were proving futile as Wawrinka clinched the third set.
Djokovic stayed in touch in the fourth set and upped his intensity as the set developed. He was rewarded with a clutch service break in the eighth game. He then saved two break points before sending the match into a fifth set.
Djokovic had the early advantage in the decider as he broke for a 2-1 lead. But his lead was short-lived as Wawrinka immediately levelled, taking advantage of tight play on the forehand by Djokovic. Wawrinka saved break points to hold for 3-2 and 4-3 before more drama as play was briefly interrupted by light rain, with Wawrinka serving at 5-5, 40/15.
Four minutes later the players were back on court and a Wawrinka ace closed out the game. Djokovic was the first to blink, and there was no reprieve. Serving at 7-8, 30/30, the Serb chased down a short ball but placed his forehand wide. Down match point, he came in behind his serve, but skewed the forehand volley wide.
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