Novak Djokovic beaten by Stanislas Wawrinka

Serb beaten in five sets by Swiss player, who will now face Czech Tomas Berdych

Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 14:41

Stanislas Wawrinka ended Novak Djokovic’s three-year reign at Melbourne Park on Tuesday, winning a five-set classic at a heaving Rod Laver Arena to sensationally dump the Serb from the Australian Open last eight.

Heartbroken by Djokovic in two five-set epics in Melbourne and the US Open last year, the 28-year-old played out of his skin to upset his grand slam nemesis 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7 in four thrilling hours under the centre court lights.

In a final set of unrelenting tension, it was the iron-willed Djokovic whose resolve finally cracked as he pushed a drop-shot wide to concede match-point and surrendered with a poor volley slapped into the tram-lines.

The Swiss’s triumph was richly deserved, though, and he will meet seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in his first Melbourne Park semi-final, having pulled off a seismic defeat to shake up the men’s title race.

“I came on the court tonight with a lot of confidence in myself, knowing that if I play my best game I always have a chance against him,” Wawrinka told reporters after ending a 14-match losing streak to the Serb.

“It’s always tough especially against Novak. I was tired, I was cramping a bit, I was nervous too. “I had to fight within myself to fight against him and try to keep my line during the game. Last year was really tough, this year it’s a new year.”

Having long lived in the shadow of compatriot Roger Federer, Wawrinka grabbed his own piece of history. Snapping Djokovic’s 28-match winning sequence on tour and 25-match streak at Melbourne Park, the unshaven Swiss will also go down as the man who ended his run of 14 successive grand slam semi-finals.

The win was especially sweet, coming a year after shedding bitter tears in the wake of a fourth-round loss to the same opponent, a disappointment compounded by another five-set defeat in the semi-finals of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

“He knows how to play now on the big stage. You could feel that with his game,” said a philosophical Djokovic, paying tribute to his conqueror. “It’s an amazing court, probably the court where I had the most excitement in my tennis career.

“Unfortunately somebody has to lose in the end. This year was me. I lost to a better player.”

Wawrinka started nervously, notching a trio of unforced errors to gift the six-times grand slam champion the opening break in the sixth game. Two set points arrived in a hurry and Djokovic sealed the second, whipping a drop-shot cross-court from a kind net-cord.

Wawrinka regrouped and went toe-to-toe with the Serb in a series of thrilling rallies before blasting an imperious backhand down the line to break Djokovic in the seventh game of the second set.

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