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Wawrinka ousts Djokovic in Australian Open quarters

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The Sports Network
1/21/2014 9:44:53 AM
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Melbourne, Australia- Stan Wawrinka put an end to Novak Djokovic's three-year reign at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

There will be no Down Under four-peat for Djokovic, as the eighth-seeded Swiss slugger Wawrinka outlasted the second seed 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 at Melbourne Park's Rod Laver Arena in yet another five-set thriller in their burgeoning rivalry.

The intense affair was tied at 5-5 in the fifth set when a rain shower started to fall, forcing a brief stoppage.

When the players returned to the court, with Wawrinka serving at 40-15 in the 11th game of the stanza, the sturdy Swiss swatted his 17th ace to grab a 6-5 edge.

Five games later, the former world No. 1 Djokovic was serving to stay in the match, but his Swiss counterpart recorded the biggest break of the fortnight on the men's side when Djokovic misfired wide with one final forehand, sending Wawrinka into his first-ever Aussie Open semi and second career major final four. He also appeared in last year's U.S. Open semis, only to lose to Djokovic.

Tuesday's big-hitting bout was completed in four hours, including a 79-minute, 16-game final set. Wawrinka broke Djokovic five times, while the Serb settled for four breaks in the tough setback. Djokovic actually won eight more points than Wawrinka (161-153), but one more break of serve was the difference on Day 9.

"I tried everything. He's an amazing champion. He never gives up. I'm really, really, really, really, really, really happy," Wawrinka said.

The 28-year-old Wawrinka had dropped his last 14 matches against the 26-year- old Djokovic, who is now 15-3 lifetime against the Swiss. Wawrinka hadn't beaten him since 2006. Djokovic outlasted Wawrinka in a five-set epic in the fourth round in Melbourne a year ago and also topped the Swiss in a brilliant five-set U.S. Open semi in September.

"He deserved this win today. I congratulate him," Djokovic said. "There is nothing I can say. I gave it my best. I gave it all. I tried to fight until the last point, as I did in a very similar match we did last year in the fourth round, same court, but it wasn't to be this time."

The six-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic had won his last 25 matches at the Aussie Open, where he'd captured three straight and four of the last six championships. The super Serb had also appeared in 14 straight major semifinals before this week, the second-longest streak in history behind only Roger Federer record mark of 23.

Djokovic's loss on Tuesday marked his first since falling to Rafael Nadal in September's U.S. Open final (28-1). He had also won his last 13 matches overall against fellow top-10 players.

Djokovic was trying to become the first man in the Open Era to win four straight Aussie crowns.

Wawrinka, who had been 2-28 against top-two players, including 0-6 at Grand Slam events, joins Federer as the only Swiss men to reach multiple Grand Slam semifinals.

His semifinal opponent on Thursday will be seventh-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych, who upset third seed David Ferrer 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Berdych, like Wawrinka, will now appear in his first-ever Aussie semi.

The "Big Four" of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Federer have combined to win 34 of the last 35 Grand Slam events. The 13-time major champion Nadal was the Aussie champ in 2009 and runner-up to Djokovic in 2012; Murray is a three-time runner-up, including last year against Djokovic; and the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer owns four Aussie titles and was the 2009 runner-up here to Nadal.

Stan Wawrinka (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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