Novak Djokovic‘s win over Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals ensured that there would be a first time winner in Paris and after his semi final win, it will be between him or eighth seed Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss will be looking for his second Grand Slam title after his success in Australia last year. Check out the Djokovic vs Wawrinka Head to Head.
Wawrinka wasn’t quite at the level of his quarter final performance against Roger Federer in the semis but did enough to see off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. A poor end to the second set allowed the Frenchman back into the match but would bounce back to win four sets 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-4, thanks in large part to Tsonga’s wastefulness on break points – converting just 1 of 17 in total.
Admittedly though, Wawrinka wasn’t a great deal better in taking just three of his total fifteen break points. Against the very best, taking your chances when you get them is a must and Djokovic will not be quite so forgiving in the final.
Djokovic came through a tough five setter against Andy Murray, closing out the match early on Saturday afternoon after a storm warning put paid to the chances of finishing the match on Friday evening. After losing the first two sets, Murray looked all but gone as the World No.1 twisted the knife. However, a late surge saw him win the third set and keep the fourth set level.
It would be expected that the break would favour Djokovic, giving the Serbian extra time to recover but a flat period allowed Murray to break and then serve to take it to a decider. Outlasting Djokovic will always be an incredibly difficult task and Murray could not maintain the high level of his past two sets, throwing in an early weak service game to give Djokovic back control. The Serbian never let up after that, closing out the match 6-3 6-3 5-7 5-7 6-1.
Along with Murray’s improved play in sets 3 and 4, Djokovic’s conversion rate on break point was another reason for allowing the Scot back into the match. Just 1 of 9 break points were converted, compared to the 2 of 3 in set 5 as Djokovic pulled away.
The ability to move up another gear when at his most threatened is just another of the reasons why Djokovic is so successful. Taking on an opponent who appears to thrive when facing Djokovic in best of 5 matches will require him to be on top form once more.
Djokovic does lead the head to head 18-3, suggesting the matchup isn’t all that competitive. However, in the four times they have met at a slam since the beginning of 2013 each match has gone 5 sets while Stan has not won a set in any of their best of three meetings in that time period.
The first of those four has a claim to being one of the best Australian Open matches in history, with Djokovic taking it 12-10 in the decider. Wawrinka couldn’t hold onto a 2-1 lead at the US Open in the same year but Djokovic would finally get over the hump in 2014, winning 9-7 in the 5th on his way to the Australian Open title. Going at it again this year in Melbourne, the Swiss took it five but failed to keep it competitive in the decider as he failed to win a single game.
It seems crazy that someone can bring their best tennis out in possibly the toughest situation in Men’s tennis right now – a five set battle with Novak Djokovic. Wawrinka will need to remain aggressive and go for it from the start, hoping that Djokovic is still feeling the effects of Saturday’s semi final. He will be delighted to be up against an opponent who played five sets over two days, especially when it looked like Djokovic would sail through in three sets for much of Friday evening.
The debate over the “Big Three/Four” has always attracted varied opinion but there would be strong claims were Wawrinka to win this that he deserves to be placed in the same tier, especially given that he would have 2 slams since Andy Murray and Roger Federer last won one. Although, the level of Djokovic’s play now suggests that there really only is a “Big 1” and that he will near ever closer to double figures and with it, achieve the career grand slam and move to halfway of the calendar grand slam.
Novak Djokovic in four sets