Monday January 21, 2013
Serb takes five hours to subdue Wawrinka to reach the quarter-finals
NOVAK Djokovic lived on in the fight to defend his Australian Open crown with an extraordinary five-hour, five-set win over Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka to reach the quarter-finals yesterday.
The Serb world No. 1 one had to dig deep to see off 15th-seeded Wawrinka’s brave challenge before prevailing 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 12-10 in a draining five hours two minutes match that finished at 1:41am local time.
Djokovic somehow has to regroup for his quarter-final tomorrow against Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych.
Wawrinka, the Swiss Davis Cup partner of Roger Federer, produced arguably his finest match to take the three-time Australian Open champion Djokovic to the brink in a desperately-fought 104-minute final set.
Wawrinka had lost his last 10 encounters with Djokovic going back to 2006 but he produced 69 winners and seven service breaks to have the Serb in deep trouble at times during the epic match.
David Ferrer will face Nicolas Almagro in an all-Spanish quarter-final after they took contrasting roads to the last eight.
Ferrer, the fourth seed in celebrated countryman Rafael Nadal’s absence, wore down Japan’s Kei Nishikori in straight sets to reach his third straight quarter-final at the year-opening Grand Slam.
But 10th seed Almagro was only on court for over an hour before his Serbian opponent Janko Tipsarevic retired with a foot injury at 6-2, 5-1.
Ferrer, on track to face defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, has never lost to Almagro in 12 meetings.
In the last eight, Djokovic will face Berdych, who defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (15-13) in two hours 44 minutes after surviving a nerve-racking tiebreaker in which the South African had five set points.
Ferrer, who will usurp Nadal as world No. 4 after the Open, was far too consistent and disciplined for 16th seed Nishikori, winning 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in 2hr 10min, but he dismissed suggestions he was in the top four on merit.
“I am top four because Rafael has been injured a long time. It’s true,” Ferrer admitted.
“I think the top four, they are better. It’s my opinion. But I am trying to win every match. The results, are there, no? I’m not making something up.
“It’s very difficult for me to win a Grand Slam because there are the top four. At this time they are better than the other players.”
Ferrer was promoted to fourth seed in the year’s opening Grand Slam when Nadal pulled out with a stomach virus, after missing all of last year after Wimbledon with a knee injury.
Although Nishikori had beaten Ferrer in their only previous Grand Slam encounter at the 2008 US Open, this time it was clear-cut for the Spaniard.
Nishikori’s exit ended Asia’s hopes in the men’s singles draw as he was bidding to repeat last year’s quarter-final appearance in Melbourne.
“He gets every ball, so I have to work 100 per cent on every point and he also return well,” Nishikori said of playing Ferrer. “It was hard to hold my serve. Yeah, it’s always tough to play against him.”
Meanwhile, Almagro said he was disappointed to go through to his first Australian Open quarter-final at the ninth attempt because of Tipsarevic’s injury.
“I’m not completely happy because Janko was injured. That’s not the way you want to win,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t do your best and you need to decide to stop if you want to be ready for the next tournament.
“I think he took the best decision if he’s really bad.” — AFP