It was another classic encounter between two of the top athletes in the sport today; Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka took part in their third five-set thriller within the last 12 months, this time with a different result. Where the world No. 2 was victorious in their last two Grand Slam encounters, both at the US Open and the 2013 Australian Open, Wawrinka produced some of his best tennis to snap the Serb’s 14 match winning streak against him and reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in the process.
Sitting in the post-match press conference following the classic encounter, Djokovic admit that these are the sort of matches a competitor lives for and dreams to have. He also stated that in those situations, as is the case in sports, there is always a winner and a loser, and this time it was him who left the arena first.
“It’s an amazing court, probably the court where I had the most excitement throughout all my career,” Djokovic said. “Matches with Rafa, with Stan, last year, this year, some epic battles. I’ve won many trophies in Australia, on Rod Laver Arena. I love that court. These are the kind of matches that you work for, you live for, you practise for. Unfortunately somebody has to lose in the end. This year it was me. I lost to a better player.”
The world No. 2 also commented on his opponent’s game, stating that Wawrinka now knows how to contest matches on the big stage and now has the confidence to challenge the elite players of the game.
“So he knows how to play now on the big stage. You could feel that with his game. He’s really taking it to the opponent and stepping in. When you’re playing like this, the only thing I can say is ‘congratulations’. I can say I was lucky with some shots last year in our match. This time it was him that had luck a little bit. But this is sport. He showed his mental strength and he deserved to win.”
Looking back at the match, Djokovic is not as disappointed as some would expect. Instead, he takes comfort in the fact that he performed at his best and fought through the contest until the final point.
“One thing I can be proud of is that I gave my best,” continued the right-hander. “It wasn’t enough. But, again, I know that I fought all the way through and laid my heart out there. It’s a battle. One of us has to lose. He was, as I said, a better player. He stepped in and he won the match.”
The loss to Wawrinka does not change the fact that this is Djokovic’s most successful surface. The Serbian star won four of his six Grand Slam titles here, including the past three years. He is proud of those accomplishments and looks forward to repeating the feat once again in 2015.
“Well, I have to be very proud of my accomplishments in my whole career, and especially at this tournament,” acknowledged Djokovic. “This is definitely by far the most successful Grand Slam [for me]. I’ve been enjoying Australia, enjoying the support here and the conditions. I can’t wait to come back next year.”