Two-time defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic had his hands full with Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday night, needing a thrilling fifth set encounter to book a place in the quarter finals.
Djokovic eventually prevailed 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7(5) 12-10, but he needed a gruelling five hours to do it, finishing at 1.41am.
An inspired Wawrinka launched a crowd pleasing set of one-handed backhands and top spinning forehands to push the world No.1 Serbian to the brink, however recent previous Australian Open campaigns prove that marathons such as Sunday’s should trouble Djokovic fatigue wise.
“Well, I'm just pleased to be part of that era, just pleased to be part of those matches where you push yourself up to the last drop of your energy,” Djokovic said.
“I'm very glad to be a winner of another marathon.”
At last year’s Australian Open, Djokovic won successive five-set marathons in the semi-final (against Andy Murray) and then again in the final against Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic will play fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
Berdych booked a third consecutive appearance at the Australian Open quarterfinals after defeating American Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-2 7-6 (13) on Sunday.
Unlike Djokovic, the Czech was able to complete the win in straight sets, however it did still take two hours and 44 minutes.
“I am playing only three sets every single match so I’ve been able to save some energy,” said Berdych post match.
Berdych has been ousted by Nadal and Djokovic at the quarterfinal stage the past two years.
Hard hitting Janko Tipsarevic was forced to withdraw from his fourth round encounter with 10th seed Nicolas Almagro due to a heel injury, sending the Spainard into his first Aussie Open quarterfinal. Almagro was leading 6-2 5-1 before Tipsarevic called it quits.
A medical timeout and treatment couldn’t resolve the Serbian’s foot troubles and Tipsarevic was clearly disappointed.
“Nico (Almagro) was playing great tennis, hitting the ball powerfully from both wings. But I was feeling great today, I wasn’t feeling tired at all from my previous matches,” he said.
“It was a beautiful day for tennis and I really felt I could play well. And I could not be more pissed off with the way I finished the competition.”
Maria Sharapova is on track for his first title Down Under since 2008 after easily defeating Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-0 to move to the quarters.
Sharapova will face 19th seed Ekaterina Makarova in the next round.
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