Australian Open

Wawrinka finally topples King Novak

Djokovic's reign at Australian Open comes to an end as the Swiss eighth seed stuns the Serb after losing their last 14 head-to-head encounters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 10:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 10:41pm
AFP

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Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka stunned three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open tennis tournament on Tuesday in a huge shock which threw the men's competition into flux.

The eighth seed triumphed after a pulsating five-set quarter-final which ran for exactly four hours and finished 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 when Djokovic volleyed out on the first match point.

It was a personal triumph for Wawrinka, 28, who took Djokovic the distance in last year's fourth round and was also denied by the Serb in another five-setter at the US Open. He had lost the last 14 matches between the pair.

It ended Djokovic's 25-match winning streak at the Australian Open, which stretched to 2011 and included 2012's record, six-hour final against Rafael Nadal.

I tried everything, [Djokovic's] an amazing champion ... I'm really, really, really, really happy
Stanislas Wawrinka

It also snapped the six-time grand slam champion's sequence of 14 straight major semi-finals, and broke a 28-match unbeaten run dating back to the US Open final in September.

"Last year [at the Australian Open] I didn't finish it and it was really tough. But this year I came back, it's a new year and I was feeling really good," Wawrinka said. "I tried everything, he's an amazing champion ... I'm really, really, really, really happy."

Wawrinka, who was cramping by the end and headed straight for an ice bath, goes into his second grand slam semi-final where he will face Tomas Berdych after the Czech ousted third seed David Ferrer.

In the women's section, China's Li Na blazed past Flavia Pennetta to set up a last-four clash with emerging teen star Eugenie Bouchard, 19, who beat former world number one Ana Ivanovic.

But the earlier results were eclipsed by Wawrinka's great upset which ensures that a player from outside of the men's "Big Four" will contest the final.

Djokovic bombed through the first set in just over half-an-hour but he stumbled in the second, and looked increasingly tight in the third.

But just when he looked to be heading out, he broke for 5-3 in the fourth set, letting out a mighty yell to the heavens.

They exchanged early breaks in the fifth and Wawrinka staved off another break point at 2-1 down with a titanic, 31-shot rally.

[Wawrinka] took his opportunities. He deserved this win today. I congratulate him absolutely
Novak Djokovic

The decider stretched on until the 16th game when a Djokovic error gave Wawrinka a match point. And as the clock ticked to four hours, the Serb's reign ended when he put a volley out.

"He took his opportunities. He deserved this win today. I congratulate him absolutely. There is nothing I can say," Djokovic said.

"You know, I gave it my best. I gave it all. I tried to come out as the winner. I tried to fight till the last point as I did in a very similar match we did last year fourth round, same court, but it wasn't to be this time."

Earlier, China's Li became favourite to reach the women's final as she pummelled winners past Pennetta in a 6-2, 6-2 win.

Li, seeking her second grand slam title, is peaking at the right time, with the 67-minute mauling coming after she smashed past Ekaterina Makarova in less than an hour on Sunday.

"After I saved match point [against Lucie Safarova last week] I have got better, I got a lot of confidence from that and I believed in myself," said Li. "I feel good, I always play well here and I hope I can take one more step this year."

But she faces a new challenge from Bouchard, who announced herself on the world stage by stunning Ivanovic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semis at her first attempt.

The super-cool blonde, whose looks and poise will have sponsors queuing for her signature, took it all in her stride.

"It's something I've been doing since I was five years old and working my whole life for and sacrificing a lot of things for," she shrugged. "So it's not exactly a surprise."

 

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