Stanislas Wawrinka authored one of the great wins of his career toppling 3-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in a 5-set thriller 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 Tuesday at the Australian Open. The 28-year-old Wawrinka had lost his last 14 matches to Djokovic including two 5-setters last year at the Australian Open (12-10 in fifth) and at the US Open semifinals.
But after getting down a set Wawrinka turned his game up and eventually took the 4-hour match.
The win puts Wawrinka into his second straight Grand Slam semifinal where he’ll face Tomas Berdych on Thursday night.
After the big win, Wawrinka met the press.
Q. Nobody beats Wawrinka 15 times in a row.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: 14 is already enough (smiling).
Q. What is the feeling you have right now? How different from last year?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: It’s completely different, for sure. I’m really happy. I’m excited. Yeah, it was more or less the same feeling during the match than last year.
The beginning was not that easy, but then I start to play really well. It was important to stay with me. Yeah, after losing two times against him in Grand Slam in five sets, I’m really happy to take that one. It’s great for me.
Q. Could you explain the emotions of the fifth set. Serving first was an advantage.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I think it’s an advantage to serve first. But I get broken I think at 1 1, something like that. When I break back, I had the feeling that I had to go to take my chance. I had to stay really aggressive. I had to push him a lot, because to be ahead in the score, it’s always an advantage, especially here when it’s quite fast and windy condition.
Yeah, it was a really tough battle. I start to cramp a little bit middle of fifth set, so I had to deal with that. I had to relax a little bit more. I was returning well. I had to do more with my serve, mixing more, and stay really aggressive.
Didn’t want to let him win that one. Get a little bit lucky in the last one. He missed easy shots. But in general in the fifth set I think I went for it.
Q. Is this the most significant win of your career?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, one of for sure. Yeah, he’s so tough to beat. He’s amazing champion. He’s always fight. He’s always find solution.
In the fourth set I think I was playing good and he won that set. So was not easy to deal with that in the fifth set, especially against him.
Last time he find always solution against me in the fifth set. He was better player. But, yeah, not tonight.
Again, I think I won that match because I really, really tried to find solutions tonight.
Q. You’re playing in the era with all these great players. Talk about what it’s been like for quite a while to have all these tough losses.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, I think for sure it’s a really, really strong generation. The top four guys, Roger, Novak, Rafa, Andy. They have been winning every Grand Slam since many, many years.
They are just better player than us, than all the rest. They are just amazing fighter, amazing player. That’s why they always won everything.
You have to deal with that. You have to fight. I know that the only thing I can control is what I’m doing off the court: my practice, how I do my schedule. I always try to improve.
I always try to find solution to change my game a little bit, to improve, to find solution when I play against the top player.
It’s never easy. I have so many loss against them, it’s always a tough challenge to play them. But, you know, I think last year I took a lot of confidence with those match with Novak. Was really close. I was playing good. We always have some great battle.
I came on the court tonight with a lot of confidence on myself, knowing that if I play my best game, I always have a chance against him.
Q. In the fourth set you were up two sets to one and a break.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I had a break in the fourth (smiling)? No.
Q. Oh, okay. How difficult was it to come back in the fifth set knowing your history of the past two Grand Slams?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: It’s always tough, especially against Novak. You know that he’s going to play even better.
I cannot just let the match goes, you know. I don’t want to lose every time in five set against Novak. I had to find solution. I had to fight within myself to fight against him and try to keep my line during the game. That’s mean being really aggressive, serve better. That’s what I did. That’s why I won the match tonight.
Q. How much does reaching consecutive Grand Slam semifinals mean to you?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: It’s amazing. I’m enjoying for sure because I’m playing great tennis. Yeah, it’s a different level if I compare to last year here. I had a lot of great match, a lot of good result.
Now I’m No. 8 in the world. I’m making my second semifinal. Beating Novak here for me, for sure it’s great. Still amazing.
Q. Do you think you can win this tournament?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I’m still far from winning the tournament. Two matches, the more difficult matches.
But I’m not thinking at all about that, to be honest. I’m thinking match after match. Tonight I’m going to enjoy with the victory of today because I think it’s important. That’s why I play well last year, because I’m enjoying my life, I’m enjoying the tennis.
When I win, it’s important, yeah, to be just happy, because I know it’s not going to be every Grand Slam that I’m going to be in the semifinals.
I just want to enjoy. Tomorrow I will get ready for the semifinal against Tomas Berdych.
Q. Considering that you are already in the semifinal versus Berdych that you beat the last three times, and then Federer has to beat before Murray and eventually Nadal. Do you think that is the first time that you, as a Swiss, you are more favorite than Federer in a slam?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. We all know that if Roger is playing his best tennis, he can beat everybody here. Me, it’s not the case. I have to play my best tennis. I have to hope that Novak is not in his best form or Rafa is not in his best form or Roger is not in his best form. It’s completely different.
Really, I don’t care. Roger, I saw him against Tsonga. I think he was playing really good. But now I’m going to look his match tomorrow. I hope he’s going to stay with that level and come back strong this year.
Q. He said that you’ve mentally matured as a player. Has it been a process in the last 18 months?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, it start since many years, but especially last year I had a big jump with that. I trust myself when I go on court. I know that I can beat those player. I try everything to beat them. Even when I loss, I go back to practice to try to improve.
That’s my line in general in my tennis career, so I will keep going and doing the same things.
Q. Is it hard to bounce back after an emotional win like this?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, I don’t think so. I think the most important is I will be ready physically because I’m quite tired right now. It was a tough battle.
But mentally I’m going to be ready, for sure. I’m happy to be here. I’m enjoying. I’m playing good tennis. There is no sign that I’m not going to play well the semifinal.
Q. How has Magnus helped your game and do you enjoy working with him?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, we start up last year. We did some amazing result already together. Second semifinal with him. He’s there. He’s pushing me every day in practice court before and after match. He’s a great guy and really good coach.
So far we are enjoying working together.
Q. Novak had the longest streak of making slam semifinals with 14 before tonight. You protected Roger’s record.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: That’s good.
Q. But also now you have the longest active streak of making semis, only two, but longer than anybody else right now. Do you expect a ‘thank you’ from Roger for protecting his record?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, no, I think Roger is really happy that I won tonight. I’m sure he watch the match. Maybe not all the match because was a long one, but he is my first supporter. He always text me after the match and is always happy for me.
Q. Did you get the sense from the crowd that there was good crowd support for you and that could manifest in a semifinal against Berdych?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, maybe. I hope. I’m enjoying to play here on Rod Laver. Tonight was a great crowd. I think since last year I start to have more supporter in every tournament. That’s something really important. I’m enjoying to play in front of those people.
Q. Have you switched on your phone or watched your Twitter account?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: A little bit during the ice bath.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, a little bit too much. That’s okay. That’s good. That’s positive. For sure when you win, you have so many message.
Q. They say this surface is a little faster this year. Do you think this was a little advantage for you or not?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, I don’t think the surface was an advantage for me, because last year it was more similar, little bit faster. Last time I played Novak was London indoor. Normally he is better player. I don’t think the surface was a big deal.
Q. What did you think when it started to rain?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Was tough. I was hoping that was not a big rain, you know. After two minutes, was fine. So was okay. I just tried to stay focus on my service game.
Q. Do you look at this as a big opportunity now? The fact you’re playing Berdych, someone you have beaten, how big a chance do you see now?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, it’s for sure a big chance. You know, Berdych is playing well since the beginning of the tournament. He’s going to be a tough player to beat. He already made one final in one slam. He already made semifinal in every Grand Slam.
So he’s there. He’s really close from the top, top guy. It’s going to be a tough battle, you know. Last time I made semis at US Open I played against Novak. Was a five set match.
No, no, doesn’t change for me to play Berdych or Roger or Rafa. I just take match after match and try to win and try my best.
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