2-time defending champion, and 3 time champion overall, Novak Djokovic played one of the most epic Major finals in history at the 2012 Australian Open, outlasting Rafael Nadal in a 5-set, 5 hour and 53 minute marathon. Nobody thought his 4th round opponent at the 2013 Australian Open, Stanislas Wawrinka, would evoke memories of that match. But that’s exactly what happened. Early on, it looked like Stan would blow Nole off the court and out of the Aussie Open as at one point he broke Djokovic’s serve 5 times in a row to put Nole in a 1-6 2-5 hole. Nole would not quit. A change of shoes later and a change of fortune, Djokovic fought back to win 5 games in a row to take the 2nd set 7-5.
It looked like order was restored when the Djoker won the 3rd set 6-4. Wawrinka has been known in the past for wilting when the heat gets turned up. Not this time. Stan battled to a 4th set tiebreak win, setting up an scintillating final set. There is not final set tiebreak at the Australian Open, so they would play into the night and early morning if they had to. And they did. With Stan’s offense and Nole’s defense clashing, it seemed neither would submit. Eventually, after Stan escaped a few match points, Nole would finally end the affair at 12-10 in the 5th with probably the point of the match, maybe the point of the tournament.
Sure, it’s a cliché, but neither man was a loser this night. However, only one can move on and it’s the world #1, Novak Djokovic. The question is, how much will Nole have in the tank for his next match against the tough Tomas Berdych? And did this match show that Djokovic is ripe for an upset. Remember that he was beaten by Bernard Tomic at Hopman Cup. Tomic was handled easily by Roger Federer at the Aussie Open. Novak is still the favorite to win the tournament, but I would guess by not as wide a margin as at the beginning of the tournament.
Showing no sign of weakness so far is Maria Sharapova, who has been ruthless in her destruction of her opponents. She had no letdown after her lopsided victory over Venus Williams, crushing an overmatched Kirsten Flipkens 1 and love. Through 4 matches, Masha has only lost a total of 5 games and has dropped 5 bagel sets along the way. Can anybody slow her down? Ekaterina Makarova, who upset Angelique Kerber (and Serena last year) gets to try next.
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE
MARIA SHARAPOVA def Kirsten Flipkens, 6-1 6-0
NOVAK DJOKOVIC def. Stanislas Wawrinka, 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 (5) 12-10
LI NA def. Julia Goerges, 7-6 (6) 6-1
AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA def. Ana Ivanovic, 6-2 6-4
EKATERINA MAKAROVA def. Angelique Kerber, 7-5 6-4