Prior to the fourth round match in the ongoing Australian Open, Djokovic had defeated Wawrinka ten times in a row and despite his world class serve, the crowd at the Rod Laver arena didn’t expect the Swiss, who had produced 1002 aces last year, second only to John Isner, to cause much damage. But the encounter turned out to be the best match of the Australian Open 2013 so far, something which fans are still talking about.
The tense rally at the match point lasted for 20 shots. As soon as Novak Djokovic’s backhand whistled past Wawrinka for a winner, I thought, “Will he do it again?” The Swiss fell on the ground, got up and took the support of the net with his head down, as Djokovic raised both his hands towards the crowd and went to congratulate his opponent for playing gem of a match. He shook hands with the referee and before one could think, it wasn’t ‘that’ special a match for him, the defending champion had ripped his shirt off, and memories of last year’s final immediately came flashing back.
Wawrinka’s serve was an asset that kept on troubling the defending champion for most part of the match. The Swiss played phenomenal tennis and made Djokovic run all over the court in what was a neck-to-neck fight. He played a lot better than what was expected from him. He dictated the proceedings initially while he was leading 6-1, 5-2 and was successful in taking the match down to the wire. But in the end, it didn’t even matter, as Nole once again showed why he was the World No. 1 player.
Djokovic’s reaction after the marathon clash said it all. While it took him about six hours to get past Nadal in the Australian Open final in 2012, the fourth round match against Wawrinka wasn’t expected to be that close. But once again, he proved his worth in the crucial five-setter. “We’re midway through the tournament, but it feels like a final to me,” he told the crowd at 1:45 am.
Wawrinka had a fair chance in the match that was 51 minutes shorter than last year’s five-hour-53-minute final, but then the Swiss wasn’t even half as talented as Nadal. Yet, he proved his worth by breaking Djokovic’s serve seven times. Djokovic wasn’t at his best either, and one could sense it in the manner in which he was making unforced errors one after another. But once again, he proved his incredible ability to fight back when his fans were suffering several heart-attacks watching their man running, struggling and panting on the tennis court.
Before winning the tournament last year, the ‘Joker’ had played two superb matches, which proved to be a fitting end to the tournament. You want to save all your energy when you are to lock horns with Nadal in the final of a Grand Slam. Djokovic tried, but couldn’t do that as the semi-final against Murray finished in 4 hours and 50 minutes. The fatigue got over him in the fifth set against Nadal in the final and yet he made a spectacular comeback to outshine the Spaniard in an absorbing contest.
Djokovic and Murray have played some fantastic tennis in the tournament so far and we hope that they have saved their best for the final. Djokovic demolished David Ferrer in the first semi-final and is seeking to become the first man to win three successive Australian Open titles in the Open era.
If the 25-year-old Scot manages to defeat Djokovic in the final, he will become the first player ever to win two straight Grand Slam titles with the first two major wins of his career. Keeping Andy Murray’s form in mind, we are all set for a thrilling finale on Sunday at the Melbourne Park.