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Stanislas Wawrinka brought a dramatic end to Novak Djokovic’s quest for a fourth successive Australian Open title in the quarter-finals on Tuesday when the Swiss finally found a way to beat the Serbian in a grand slam five-setter.
The pair held a packed Rod Laver Arena spellbound with four hours of top quality tennis studded with breathtaking rallies before the Swiss emerged a 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7 winner to snap a 14-match losing streak against the second seed.
Wawrinka had come close to beating Djokovic in a five-hour epic in the fourth round here and another five-set thriller in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open — both last year — only to fall agonisingly short. The 28-year-old finished the job on Tuesday, though, riding his thunderous serve and summoning up some brilliant shotmaking, particularly off his backhand, to claim what could be a career-defining win when Djokovic fluffed a volley.
“He’s an amazing champion, he never gives up. I’m really, really, really, really, really, really happy,” said Wawrinka, whose path to a first grand slam final is blocked by Czech Tomas Berdych. “After losing two times against him in grand slam in five sets, it’s great for me.”
Defeat for Djokovic in his first major tournament under new co-coach Boris Becker ended his run of consecutive grand slam semi-finals at 14, his winning streak in tour events at 28 matches and his unbeaten run at Melbourne Park at 25.
“This is probably the court where I had most excitement in my tennis career,” said the four-times champion. These are kind of matches that you work for, you live for, you practice for. Unfortunately somebody has to lose in the end.”
Czech Berdych came out on top 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4 in a three-hour arm-wrestle against David Ferrer to reach the last four here for the first time.
Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard had earlier kept her poise in the biggest match of her life to oust Ana Ivanovic 5-7 7-5 6-2 and set up a semi-final against China’s Li Na, who dispatched Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-2.
The highlight of the day was always going to be the final