Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 AUS OPEN: Wawrinka Nearly Beats Nole in 5!

This is what Djokovic looks like after playing five hours of tennis!
In a completely surprising result Stanislas Wawrinka outplayed Novak Djokovic for vast stretches of a 5 hour and 2 minute 4th round match, eventually losing after valiantly saving 2 match points 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7(5) 12-10 to the defending Australian Open champion and current World #1. Previously, Djokovic had a comfortable 10-0 head-to-head record against Wawrinka and had easily dismissed him the last time they played. This 4th round encounter was expected to be routine, but ended up being something completely different!

Wawrinka led 6-1 5-2 by serving huge and firing well on both wings. He has always had one of the most powerful one-handed backhands in the game, but tonight his forehand was also deadly and accurate. Djokovic did not play his best tennis, but was able to somehow crawl back from a 2-5 deficit to win the 2nd set and continue his momentum and win the 3rd. But Djokovic was unable to close out the match in the 4th set, losing a tiebreaker and then getting broken early in the 5th set.

Unfortunately, "Stan The Man" was not able to hold on to his lead and for about an hour in the 104-minute 5th set there was tension but no drama as both men held serve relatively easily after each had saved breakpoints in the 7th and 8th games. However, in the 22nd game Djokovic was able to each deuce on Wawrinka's serve and earn three breakpoints, that also were match points. The Swiss player was able to save two of the match points with stunningly accurate backhand down the line winners but on the third, after a thrilling 18-stroke rally which included both players running corner to corner Djokovic was able to sneak a ball past Wawrinka at the net with a backhand top-spin crosscourt winner to reach his 15th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal and keep his hopes of winning a 3rd consecutive title in Melbourne.

In 2 days, Djokovic will face Tomas Berdych who is yet to lose a set in this year's tournament and often relishes his chances to upset the top four players. It will be interesting to see if Djokovic's win today will be a pyrrhic victory or not.

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