One of the best matches of year took place in the first month of the 2013 season as Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka met in the fourth round of the Australian Open in a contest that would be remembered for its dramatic twists and turns as well as the final point, when Djokovic raised his hands in stunned victory. The five set marathon lasted well over four and a half hours and was a thrilling affair for the Melbourne crowd, who were behind underdog Wawrinka and his inspiring performance. It was the start of a magnificent year for the Swiss No. 2 and the first significant threat to then-No. 1 Djokovic’s title.
Novak Djokovic def. Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 12-10
The contest began surprisingly one-sided, as Wawrinka stunned the top-ranked Djokovic with three service breaks in the first set before closing it out 6-1. Many expected the Serb to recover instantaneously but Wawrinka continued to push the pace and had that 5-2 lead in the second before Djokovic rallied to win six consecutive games to snatch the set from the grasps of the Swiss no. 2.
Following the disappointing second set for Wawrinka, it appeared as though he would be incapable of mounting another set advantage over Djokovic as he would lose another break point in the third set, which was enough for Djokovic to take it 6-4 and give himself a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set.
Now behind on the scoreboard for the first time since the start of the match, Wawrinka begins to mount his own comeback after coming under fire from the Serb’s powerful forehands. With tensions riding high, the set reached the inevitable tiebreaker; Stanislas forced a minibreak and eventually evened the match as he edged Djokovic 7-5 to reach a deciding fifth set.
Having surpassed four hours heading into the final set, it was apparent that this match had the potential to last another few hours, with no fifth set tiebreak to decide between them. Djokovic served to open up the set and focused all his mental effort on winning his own service games. It would take 22 games before Wawrinka would finally threaten the Serb’s serve but was unable to get past the top seed and found himself facing match point.
To the delight of the crowd – and to Djokovic’s despair – the Swiss no. 2 saved two match points but soon found himself facing a third (and final) match point; the valiant Wawrinka fought will all his effort but was simply unable to stop the magnificent cross court shot that secured the match for the defending champion. The match ended at 12-10 in the final set, and while Wawrinka was not victorious that night, who would have guessed that it would be the start of his career-best year on the tour.
After the match, Djokovic admit that it ranked amongst his favourite matches in his career.
“It definitely ranks right at the top,” said Djokovic, when asked to rate the victory over Wawrinka. “One of the longest, most interesting, and most exciting matches I have played in my career.