Arthur Ashe Stadium 12pm local time
Kicking off the Saturday Men’s Semi Finals session is what looks to be the more intriguing match on paper. Ninth seed Stanislas Wawrinka (Player Bio)‘s dream run to a first semi final sees him take on the World No.1 and 2011 champion Novak Djokovic (Player Bio). The Djokovic vs Wawrinka Head to Head stands at 14-2 to the Serb, including their first two meetings back in 2004 and 2005 (Challenger and the Australian Open qualies).
It’s been anything but an easy run to the final four for Wawrinka. He finally earned his first win over Radek Stepanek in six attempts and then knocked off dangerous spoilers Ivo Karlovic and Marcos Baghdatis, the latter of which played some inspiring tennis on his road to the third round. It got much tougher from then as he came from a set down to beat Tomas Berdych in four sets, breaking the Czech’s serve twice.
While Andy Murray was far from his best in the quarter finals, Wawrinka was simply stunning in his destruction of the defending champion. The 6-4 6-3 6-2 scoreline didn’t flatter the Swiss who didn’t face a single break point against one of the elite returners in the game. He attacked from the offset, hitting 45 winners to 37 unforced errors. For a man aiming to make his first semi final, he looked anything but overawed by the occasion.
The pressure will be off for him and he looks to finally have emerged from the shadows of his illustrious compatriot Roger Federer. There is a possibility that he could overtake him in the rankings by year end although it would be highly dependant on his progress for the rest of the tournament.
After 14 straight to begin the tournament, Djokovic finally suffered his first loss of a set to Mikhail Youzhny. A sloppy set saw him broken twice but he bounced back in the fourth with a bagel to complete a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-0 victory. If he allows himself to drop a level like in the third set, Wawrinka can most definitely take advantage based on the form he has shown in this tournament so far.
After a 6-4 6-1 3-1 ret. in their meeting at this tournament last year, it’s fair to say the next meeting between the two was a little more dramatic. Hailed by many as the match of the tournament (and the year), Djokovic fought back from a 6-1 first set loss to take the match in 5 – 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10 in just over five hours.
Putting in one of the best performances of his career and still being unable to defeat Djokovic will have to have be disheartening but it will give Stan belief that he can compete with the top players – especially having beaten another of the big four this tournament. Conditions definitely suited Djokovic more in Australia than they do here so that takes away a little of the Serbian’s edge.
However, the head to head still looks painful reading Wawrinka who has won just two of the sixteen meetings spanning 9 years. It’s hard to see him making it a third victory but it won’t be straight forward for Djokovic now that Youzhny has shown that he can be got at. It could well go the distance and that will always have to favour Djokovic.
Prediction: Djokovic in 5