Stanislas Wawrinka produced the performance of his career to stun defending champion Novak Djokovic and march into the semifinals of the Australian Open. The pair had met in two Majors last year with Djokovic triumphing in five sets on both occasions. This time, the Swiss World No. 8 was not to be denied.
Djokovic got off to a flying start by breaking Wawrinka twice to secure the opening frame 6-2. The Swiss finally made a breakthrough at 3-3 in the second set, capitalizing on a break point opportunity by unleashing a monstrous backhand that just clipped the line. The remainder of the set went with serve, allowing Wawrinka to level the match. It was the first set Djokovic had dropped during the entire tournament.
An inspired Wawrinka broke twice in succession early in the third set to wrestle control of the match. He served it out and now the pressure was on his Serb opponent to match his intensity.
The fourth set was a tightly contested affair before Djokovic broke the Wawrinka serve in the ninth game after coming back from 40-0 down.
In common with their last three meetings at Grand Slam tournaments, this was going to a fifth and final deciding set.
Both players had opportunities in the fifth and traded early breaks. The defining moment came at 7-8 on the Djokovic serve where the Serb shepherded a volley out of the court for Wawrinka to break and take the match in a nail-biting finish.
Cover Photo: karlnorling, Creative Commons License