He chipped away last year with two five-set losses at Grand Slams, but this time Stan Wawrinka would only settle for a breakthrough.
The No. 8-seeded Swiss on a late Tuesday night in Melbourne defeated No. 2 Novak Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 to advance into the Australian Open semifinals and a meeting with No. 7 Tomas Berdych.
“Last year I didn’t finish and it was really tough, but this year I came back,” Wawrinka said. “He is an amazing champion and he never gives up, and I am really, really, really, really, happy…I was really focused point after point, I was feeling really great on the court…I was also really nervous so it’s not easy to deal with that — now I’m going to go to the ice bath for a really long time…When he’s playing his best he’s better than me for sure, I was trying to focus on playing really aggressive.”
In the fifth set Djokovic and Wawrinka traded early break, then the Serb made a couple uncharacteristic errors in the 16th game of the set to send the Swiss into the semis. At last year’s Aussie Open it was Djokovic who triumphed 12-10 in the fifth set.
Berdych in his quarterfinal upset No. 3 David Ferrer 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
“He is serving and playing big from the baseline,” Wawrinka said of Berdych, “so I will need to play my best game.”
The 28-year-old Berdych broke through to his first Aussie Open semifinal after waiting through a purple patch in the third set and stopping the grinding Spaniard from stretching it to five sets.
“It’s extremely tough physically with David always, and after losing third set and not playing well, I tried to be focused for every point,” Berdych said. “I’m playing well. I feeling really good. It’s going really well this 10 days already…I need to rest. I need to prepare. I need to make the same approach as I did in those past matches, really believe in myself, believe in my game.”
The women’s side provided some equally shocking moments on Tuesday as tour rookie 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard of Canada showed her composure in a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 quarterfinal win over No. 14 seed and Serena Williams conqueror Ana Ivanovic.
In a match filled with baseline bashing and timely net approaches by both players, Bouchard in her first Australian Open main draw appearance upped her power from the baseline to match that of the free-swinging Serb.
In the third set Bouchard broke for 3-1, with Ivanovic receiving treatment for a leg/hip problem, before running out the set 6-2.
“I think it was really just staying with her, battling,” Bouchard said. “I played her once last year. I feel like she’s playing at a much higher level right now. I know she won a tournament early this year. She was playing really well. I just had to stay with her, try to control the point a little bit more. I think late in the second set I decided to use my forehand a little bit more and I think that worked well.”
Bouchard in the semifinals will meet the No. 4 seed Li Na, who in her quarterfinal Tuesday routed Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2.
“I got a lot of confidence because of being match point down against [Lucie] Safarova,” said Li of her match earlier in the tournament, attempting to reach her third Australian Open final. “Finally I came back to win that match, and so of course I got a lot of confidence and belief in myself.”
Quarterfinal matches scheduled for Wednesday in Melbourne are (11) Simona Halep vs. (20) Dominika Cibulkova, (5) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. (2) Victoria Azarenka, (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (22) Grigor Dimitrov, and in the night cap, (4) Andy Murray vs. (6) Roger Federer.
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