Photo: Paul ZimmerStanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Stanislas Wawrinka avenged last year’s fourth round five-set defeat as he took out the defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, 26 64 62 36 97, to progress to his first ever semifinal in Melbourne.
Coming into the match Wawrinka had suffered 14 consecutive defeats against Djokovic including two heart-breaking final set losses in Grand Slams last year, having been ahead in them both.
This match seemed to be following the same script when the world No. 1 took the opening set comfortably only to see the match turn around in emphatic style as Wawrinka stormed his way through the next two sets to edge within sight of victory.
“I'm really happy. I'm excited. The beginning was not that easy, but then I start to play really well,” beamed the world No. 8. “I don't want to lose every time in five set against Novak. I had to find solution. I had to fight within myself to fight against him and try to keep my line during the game.“
Djokovic, who was riding a 28-match win streak on the tour, was not be dismissed lightly as he took the fourth set and looked to be driving home the advantage when he won an early break in the decider.
Wawrinka rallied quickly to take the break straight back to level at 2-2 and then fought off multiple break points in the following service games to keep Djokovic at bay.
“When I break back, I had the feeling that I had to go to take my chance. I had to stay really aggressive. I had to push him a lot, because to be ahead in the score, it's always an advantage, especially here when it's quite fast and windy condition.”
A brief rain delay with the scores level at 5-5 added to the drama but play resumed shortly after with both men holding comfortably until the sixteenth game of the set when from 30-all Djokovic committed back-to-back errors, pushing a volley wide on the first match point of the encounter to end his hopes of a fourth consecutive crown down under.
Wawrinka will face Tomas Berdych for a place in the final after the Czech No. 1 fended off David Ferrer, 61 64 26 64.
However the Swiss No. 2 was not to drawn into looking too far ahead: “Tonight I'm going to enjoy with the victory of today because I think it's important. That's why I play well last year, because I'm enjoying my life, I'm enjoying the tennis. I just want to enjoy. Tomorrow I will get ready for the semifinal. Berdych is playing well since the beginning of the tournament. He's going to be a tough player to beat.”
It was the first meeting between Berdych and Ferrer in a Grand Slam and the former looked the fresher of the two players from the start, having not been pushed beyond the two hour mark in his previous four rounds.
The win means that the big-serving world No. 7 has now reached the semifinal stage of all four Grand Slams – becoming only the second ever Czech player to achieve this feat after Ivan Lendl – and will now be looking to go one better than the runner-up spot he achieved at Wimbledon in 2010.
In the women’s draw Eugenie Bouchard continued her impressive run of form at the Australian Open to make her first ever Grand Slam semifinal, defeating Ana Ivanovic 57 75 62.
Having not made it beyond the qualifying stage of the tournament in 2013 the 19-year-old will now face world two-time finalist Li Na in the next round.
Li will be favourite to win the match-up against the third teenager she will have faced in the draw but will also be wary of a player who appears immune to fear on the court. The 2011 Roland Garros champion faced little resistance in her quarterfinal against Flavia Pennetta, needing just 67 minutes to dispatch the Italian, 62 62.