Stan Wawrinka was the only tennis player to have defeated Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park, but that wasn’t the case today. The worlds number one tennis champion reached his fifth final today with no signs of stopping anytime soon. You can check out the full highlights video below, and if you missed this incredible match, they’re worth watching.
When they’ve met at grand slams recently, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka haven’t disappointed.
The two combined to orchestrate another great spectacle at the Australian Open and this time it was world No. 1 Djokovic who outlasted the defending champion to book his spot in the final.
Last year, Wawrinka had downed Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set when the pair met in the quarterfinals in Melbourne en route to breaking the stranglehold of tennis’ Big Four but the Serb prevailed Friday 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-0 in a match that had more plot twists than a low-budget horror movie.
When Djokovic clinched the hard fought affair — it was the fourth straight time the pair went to five sets at a grand slam — he joined Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg as the only men in the Open Era to make five finals in Melbourne.
Djokovic improved to 9-0 in semifinals and finals at the Australian Open and that includes three wins over his opponent in the final, Andy Murray. On Thursday, Murray won an ill-tempered clash against Tomas Berdych thatlanded the Scot’s fiancee in hot water.
Djokovic’s streak appeared to be in jeopardy as the fifth set began, however.
With the Serb creaking, Wawrinka erred on break point in the first game when he sent a routine backhand long. Djokovic took advantage of a deflated Wawrinka to break in the next game and didn’t look back.
While the duo combined to make 118 unforced errors — to go along with only 69 winners — there was drama aplenty and still some brilliant shot-making.
“Describe the match? Strange,” Wawrinka told reporters.
Wawrinka needed eye drops to rectify an issue in the first set and Djokovic had to be told by the chair umpire that he won the third set, such was his level of concentration.
Djokovic blew a break lead in the fourth and Wawrinka hit one of the shots of the tournament — a backhand drop volley — to save a break point later in the fourth. On other occasions, he drew gasps from the crowd by crushing his flat, one-handed backhand.
Whereas Djokovic looked solid on his serve in his previous five matches, Wawrinka broke him five times.
But the Swiss not only lost his first tiebreak of the tournament — having previously gone 5-0 — he imploded and was thumped 7-1.
“It was very emotional, very tense, as it always is against a top player in the semifinals of a grand slam,” Djokovic told reporters. “Of course, judging by the last two matches we played here … we could expect something like that, a five-setter. So the battle was great.
“It was no different this year from the previous two years in terms of, you know, fighting from both sides. The only difference was that the fifth set went completely my way.
“But, again, it was a tight first opening game of the fifth set where he had some break point opportunities, missed an easy ball.”
Despite the topsy-turvy nature of the semifinal, Djokovic claimed he was content with his form ahead of the final against Murray, his longtime friend and tennis rival.
“I think I have much more positive things to reflect on in my game and then all the matches that I played so far in the tournament than the negative,” Djokovic said. “I’m in the finals. At the end of the day, that’s why I’m here, you know, to try to get far in the tournament.
“Getting to the finals in any way possible is a great achievement. I’m going to try to use that for build up of the confidence for finals.”
His record against Murray in Australia — he defeated the sixth seed in the 2011 and 2013 finals — works in Djokovic’s favor. But then, in both of Murray’s grand slam successes, he beat Djokovic in the final.
“He’s been playing some great tennis these couple weeks,” said Djokovic. “From my side, it’s going to be necessary to perform at my best and play the best match of the tournament if I want to win.
“Obviously it’s finals. There’s no clear favorite. But as you mentioned, the record I have in finals against him here in Australia, we played couple times, can serve maybe as a slight mental edge. But not much.
“I don’t think he’s going to feel that on the court. I’m sure he’s going to be very motivated to win his first title here. I’m going to, of course, give my best that that doesn’t happen.”
Cause for concern for Serena?
Like Djokovic, Serena Williams has never tasted defeat at the Australian Open once she’s progressed past the quarterfinals.
The world No. 1 holds a 16-2 record against her foe in Saturday’s women’s final, Maria Sharapova.
But the 18-time grand slam winner cut short a first practice session Friday because she was unwell.
She went on to practice later.
“I had a false start (this morning),” Williams said in a statement. “I wasn’t feeling really well. I’ve been sick with a cold all week and I got better, then I got worse this morning.
“I just had to go back (to the hotel), relax and take a nap, rejuvenate my body. I rescheduled practice for this afternoon. It went well … I felt better.”
If the second-ranked Sharapova snaps her 15-match losing streak against Williams, she would claim a first major outside Roland Garros in seven years.