Djokovic dream still alive after Wawrinka test

Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:53am EST
 

By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic survived an almighty scare from an inspired Stan Wawrinka in a five-hour, five-set thriller at the Australian Open on Sunday, reaching a 15th consecutive grand slam quarter-final but only after digging himself out of a huge hole.

For the first 50 minutes of the contest, Wawrinka played as if possessed by his compatriot Roger Federer and confounded the world number one with brilliant backhands and ferocious forehands to notch up five straight breaks of serve.

Even when Djokovic had weathered the worst of the storm and clawed his way back from 6-1 4-1 down to win the second and third sets, the world number 17 made the Serbian earn every point and forced a decider after a dramatic tiebreak.

The Swiss blew four precious break points in the ninth game of the fifth set and Djokovic converted his third match point with a brilliant backhand winner to seal a 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10 win.

In a conscious echo of his win over Rafa Nadal in last year's nearly six-hour final on Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic ripped off his shirt and roared in delight at a victory which kept alive his hopes of a third successive title at Melbourne Park.

"We are only halfway through the tournament but it felt like a final to me," said Djokovic, who will meet fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the next round.

"He deserved equally to be a winner of this match. Tonight he showed his qualities. He was the aggressor on the court and I was just hanging in there trying to fight.

"I always believed I could win the match and I am absolutely thrilled to be in the next round. It certainly brings back memories of last year with Rafa."   Continued...

 
Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) shakes hands with Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland after defeating him in their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz