After their epic battle last year in Melbourne, a contest that Djokovic labelled as ” one of the longest, most interesting, and most exciting matches” that he has ever played in his illustrious career, world No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Swiss No. 2 Stanislas Wawrinka will meet in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, the second time they clash following their extraordinary match in January last year.
It was 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.
The former No. 1 was in complete control throughout his fourth round match, as he dominated Fabio Fognini to reach the quarter-final stage in Melbourne. Novak hit 7 aces and 33 winners in his 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 win over the Italian No. 1. The defending champion has now reached his 19th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and extended his winning streak to 28 tour-level matches, dating back to his US Open finals loss to Nadal last year in September. He also joins Roger Federer, Stefan Edberg and Ivan Lendl as the only men to reach at least seven consecutive quarter-finals at the Australian Open in the Open Era.
Discussing a potential rematch with Wawrinka, Djokovic admit that he must be prepared for another gruelling 5-set encounter.
“Well, I have to be ready to play another 12 10 in the fifth like last year. I know that he’s playing the tennis of his life in last 15 months. He’s top 10 player now. He’s established himself in the top level. He won against some top guys in the big tournaments. He is confident. You know, you could feel that mentally when he comes to the court, he believes in himself more. He can win against the top guys in the later stages of events.
So, you know, you cannot expect a clear favorite in that match.”
In the final match on court, Wawrinka defeated Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(5) to set up his quarter-final rematch with Djokovic. It was Wawrinka’s second victory in eight meetings with the 17th seed but controlled the entire match yesterday, hitting 14 aces and 57 winners en route to a straight sets victory.
Last year, Djokovic edged Wawrinka 12-10 in a decisive fifth set to win the fourth round encounter. Wawrinka hopes that he can repay the favour this year and edge Djokovic to reach his second-ever Grand Slam semi-final.
“I watched him a little bit today. He’s really, really tough to beat,” said Wawrinka. “I had five sets against him last year here. Five sets in the US Open. But I didn’t win. I didn’t find the solution to beat him. So it’s going to be really difficult.”
Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 17-2 and has won the last 15 consecutive matches between the two. They most recently met at the US Open, where Wawinka once again took the Serb to a 5-set clash before succumbing to the tournament runner-up. He has been in great form since the start of the season and will likely pose a threat to the former no. 1 but it is highly unlikely that he will manage to upset the four-time Australian Open champion on his favoured surface.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Four Sets