Djokovic survives five-hour ordeal against pumped Swiss

Novak Djokovic survived a five hour thriller to advance in the Australian Open. GETTY IMAGES
Novak Djokovic survived a five hour thriller to advance in the Australian Open. GETTY IMAGES

LEAVE it to Novak Djokovic to be involved in another dramatic spectacle.

In one of the most thrilling contests played at Melbourne Park in the past decade, the two-time defending champion edged an inspired Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7(5) 12-10 in a five hour and two minute marathon to move into the quarterfinals.

It was a heroic effort by both men in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena that ended at 1.41am on Monday morning.

The top seed managed to repel the pumped-up Swiss, who dictated play for much of the match with brilliant shot-making.

But while Wawrinka wowed the spectators with his wondrous one-handed backhand, booming serves and rolling topspin forehands, it was Djokovic who once again dug deep on the court where he has had the most success.

"Well, I'm just pleased to be part of that era, just pleased to be part of those matches where you push yourself up to the last drop of your energy," Djokovic said.

"I'm very glad to be a winner of another marathon."

In winning his third Australian Open last year, the strong-legged Serbian won back-to-back five-setters in the semifinals over Andy Murray and in the final over Rafael Nadal.

But those were against two of his primary rivals in the sport, and not against a man who has tried so hard to transform himself into an elite player.

On Sunday night and Monday morning in Melbourne, Wawrinka was that elite player, and deserved just as much attention as his more famous countryman, Roger Federer.

"I always knew he has a quality," Djokovic said.

"He has ability to beat the best players in the world, and he has proven that on several occasions on different surfaces.

"He's using that power and the serve. He's really moving well over the court. He's reading the game. So he came up with great tactics today."

Even though he played a brilliant first set, Wawrinka could not consolidate a 5-2 lead in the second set and keep his foot on Djokovic's throat.

But he did not collapse after losing five straight games to drop the second set and then when he lost the third.

Wawrinka, who held a 2-11 record against the Serbian entering the match, punched his way into the fourth set tiebreaker, and even though Djokovic came hard when down 3-6 by ripping two forehand winners, Wawrinka stood tall and won it with a whipping forehand of his own down the line.

The two knew going into the fifth set that they would have to push their bodies to the limits and beyond, and they did so.

Wawrinka cramped on and off throughout the set and had an opportunity when he was ahead 4-3 and held four break points, but Djokovic pulled off a sweet drop shot, Wawrinka made two groundstroke errors and the Serbian then put away a backhand volley.

There would be no more break points after that until the 16-point final game, when Wawrinka fought off two match points, the first with a 200km/h ace and the second with an incredible backhand down the line when it looked like he was barely moving.

But on the final point, Wawrinka pushed Djokovic all over the court and looked like he was going to win the point when he forced Djokovic to stab back two backhands, but after he hit a low slice approach shot,

Djokovic somehow scooped it up and flipped a backhand crosscourt pass to win the contest. The final set alone lasted an hour and 44 minutes.

"I think it's by far my best match I ever play, especially in five sets against the No. 1 player," said the 15th-seeded Wawrinka.

"Especially I was dealing with myself all the five hours, trying to always find solutions, trying to always fight against me and against him to stay with him. At the end I was really, really close. For sure I'm really sad.

"But I think there is more positive than negative."

The two warmly embraced at the net before Djokovic tore his shirt off and roared to his box, just like he did when he bested Nadal last year in their five hour and 53 minute classic.

"I just had flashback of 2012 in the finals," Djokovic said.

"It was maybe 45 minutes less this match than the one 12 months ago, but still it was still as exciting. I tried to perform my best, enjoy the moment, be in the present, and couldn't ask for more. What a match point. Unbelievable."

Djokovic will play fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, and believes he's in good enough shape to make another title run.

"I've been in those situations before," he said.

"I remember when I won against Murray in the semis after five hours, and then played against Rafa almost six hours. I know I can recover. I know I have it in me."


Topics:  australian open editors picks novak djokovic tennis

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Murderer used Beerburrum forest as dumping ground

Deceased woman Tia Landers. Her accused murderers have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Landers wasn't the first person Harris buried in Beerburrum forest

More jobs created by Ipswich investment worth millions

The company has invested $4 million in Ipswich

Local Partners

Armed robber with heavy conscience turns himself in

AN armed robber with a guilty conscience who turned himself into police, held up a Night Owl to get ice after taking it for the first time only hours before.

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

CMC organisers: No more pre-sale tickets will be sold

US country music group The Dixie Chicks. Supplied by Chugg Entertainment.

UPDATE: Plenty of people unhappy with process

Miranda Kerr to wed next year

Supermodel Miranda Kerr

Supermodel and Snapchat founder to wed

What's on the small screen this week

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

TWO big reality shows wrap up this week while

Brad Pitt won't file legal response to divorce petition

Brad reportedly refused to send off the paperwork

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Brad Pitt meets with his kids amid divorce proceedings

Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has met up with his oldest son Maddox

Pictures of Taylor Swift allegedly being groped are sealed

They could "complicate jury selection".

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track