Tennis

Novak Djokovic battles past Stan Wawrinka

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Novak Djokovic beat defending champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 to reach the Australian Open final.

Djokovic, who is chasing a fifth Australian Open title, will play British number one Andy Murray in the final on Sunday.

For the third year running, Djokovic and Wawrinka have played five sets at Melbourne Park, although this contest did not measure up to the quality of previous years.

Previous record

This will be the third time that Murray and Djokovic have met in the Australian Open final; the Serb won their other two meetings in 2011 and 2013.

“Andy and I go back to when we were 12 years old,” Djokovic said about his relationship with Murray.

“That was the first time we’ve played each other. There’s only a week’s difference between us in age. It’s nice to see that we’re playing another Grand Slam final against each other. We’ll see if we can come up with a good match for all of you guys.”

Murray will take some comfort into the final due to the length and quality of play. Neither Djokovic nor Wawrinka played spectacularly - both players contrived for a combined total of 118 unforced errors - and were for the most part on an even footing throughout.

Not taking chances

Had Wawrinka made more of his chances he could have pushed the World number one further. After early backhand winners and errors he calmed down and Djokovic took a more commanding role in the contest.

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Djokovic twice moved a set ahead, but was pinned back twice, and neither could muster their best to consistently take control. It is telling that a normally error free player, Djokovic made 49 unforced errors.

In the first set Djokovic’s serve dropped for the first time in 77 service games, tying the set at 3-3. Wawrinka saved two set points at 4-5 before Djokovic won the tiebreaker 7-1.

The number one seed played within himself, double faulting on break point to let Wawrinka to serve out the set to level the match. The momentum of the third set was with Djokovic as Wawrinka had his serve broken at 4-5, and played four poor points after initially leading 40-15.

The fourth appeared to follow suit, but at 3-3 Wawrinka took the initiative to win the set after Djokovic let the Swiss win four straight points after the number one seed made four errors and dropped serve at 4-3.

Wawrinka had found his range on his backhand in the fifth set to take an early break, but it had become predictable. Holding to save a break point for 1-0 two double faults from Wawrinka to go 15-40 down. With his backhand broken, Djokovic took a 2-0 lead that he would not relinquish. The final set ended as a ‘bagel’, which in reality was strange end for an inconsistent and ugly but still enjoyable dramatic 5 setter.

Sad End

The loss is a sad end to Wawrinka’s title defence having been in such fine form throughout the Open. The loss means he will drop form World number 4 to number 9, putting Murray in at World number 4 with a chance to move up to World Number three if he wins the tournament.

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Topics:
Australian Open
Novak Djokovic
Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka
Andy Murray

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