MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The opponent was different, the match three rounds earlier. Still, the result gave Novak Djokovic a familiar feeling, and another chance to rip off his shirt in celebration.
Djokovic needed just over 5 hours to beat Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 12-10 in a fourth-round match Sunday night at the Australian Open, on the same court where he needed 5:53 to beat Rafael Nadal in last year’s final.
“I just had flashback of 2012,” Djokovic said. “It was maybe 45 minutes less this match than the one 12 months ago, but still it was still as exciting. I tried to enjoy the moment and couldn’t ask for more. What a match point ... unbelievable.”
He wasn’t exaggerating about the match point. On his third attempt to end it, his backhand cross-court shot zipped past the valiant Wawrinka, who, Djokovic conceded, had outplayed him for most of the night.
“He came up with great tactics today,” Djokovic said. “He didn’t give me a lot of the same rhythm that I could get into the match. He was the one being in charge. I was passive. ’’
Djokovic will next play No. 5 Tomas Berdych, who needed five match points in the tiebreaker before beating former Illini Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (13).
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer won 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 against No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan to set up a quarterfinal against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who was leading 6-2, 5-1 when No. 8 Janko Tipsaveric retired from their fourth-round match.
The Djokovic-Wawrinka match overshadowed Maria Sharapova’s accomplishment earlier in the day.
Sharapova advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-0 win against Kirsten Flipkens in another impressive display — last year’s French Open champion has lost just five games through four rounds, breaking the Australian Open mark of eight held previously by eventual champions Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.
“A couple that I’ve won, I felt like I was playing great from the beginning and I was able to carry that through the whole tournament,” said Sharapova.