In one of the most absorbing tennis duels on Tuesday, Stanislas Wawrinka extracted his revenge of his last year’s fourth round defeat against the formidable Novak Djokovic. Playing at the Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka literally re-enacted their last year’s epic battle in the second quarterfinal at Melbourne Park, albeit with a different final result. In the last year’s match, Djokovic ultimately wore down Wawrinka in the final set 12-10, while Wawrinka did the same on Tuesday, ending the match with the final set score of 9-7. Fortunes fluctuated all through the humdinger, as the grueling five-setter kept the spectators involved and guessing. As the match began, Djokovic made it look as if it was his day, when he took the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes with commanding ease. But he couldn’t have guessed then the Swiss eighth had something up his sleeves for the rest of the match. The command passed from one player to another, as Wawrinka applied pressure and took the second and third sets 6-4, 6-2. The reversal of dominance left Djokovic flabbergasted and error-prone. But the four-time champion collected himself and took the fourth set 6-3. As the match went into the fifth set, the two players traded early breaks and began holding their serves until the score reached 8-7 in Wawrinka’s favor. When Djokovic served in the sixteenth game, cracks were seen in his game, which Wawrinka obligingly exploited. The Swiss had the last laugh as he broke Djokovic to end the 4-hour thriller 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7.
Earlier in the day, Tomas Berdych sent David Ferrer packing in the first quarterfinal. Ferrer took the court with a 7-4 head-to-head advantage over the big Czech, including six out of their last eight matches. But Ferrer must have been aware about his loss to Berdych in their last match in November 2013 ATP World Finals. There was just a little difference, as that match was played indoors. Berdych decided to be patient in long rallies, on which Ferrer is famous for outsmarting most of his opponents. So Berdych put is head down and matched Ferrer shot for every shot, when it came to running on the court. Ferrer was completely outplayed in the first two sets, which went Berdych’s way at 6-1, 6-4. But the Spaniard re-invented his court skills and took the third set at 6-2. Just when everyone thought the game was destined to go into five sets, Berdych broke Ferrer in the fifth game of the fourth set and ran home to the place in the semifinals. He had better watch out since his semifinal opponent will be Stanislas Wawrinka, who got the better of the Serbian second seed Novak Djokovic in a classic duel at the Rod Laver Arena.
There were other dramatic results on Tuesday, which made the day thrilling for the Melbourne Park crowd. A little-known Canadian girl, going by the name of Eugenie Bouchard turned the tables on Ana Ivanovic, defeating the 14th seed Serbian 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 to set up a semifinal clash with the Chinese Li Na. The 19 year old Bouchard was one of the 13 teenagers in the women’s draw and no one would have put his/her bets on her victory over Ivanovic, who on Sunday had upset the top seed Serena Williams. The first set between the two women, was one of the most engaging sets, witnessed in this year’s tournament. While Ivanovic fired forehand winners, Bouchard did the same with her backhand. Bouchard’s immaculate returns and her ability to move up the net should have cautioned Ivanovic, early in the match. Both players had their chances in the absorbing first set, which saw five consecutive service breaks, before Ivanovic held her serve to win the set 7-5. The Serbian looked good in the early part of the second set but then she needed medical attention mid-way in the set for her left leg problem. Back on court, Ivanovic appeared to be lacking in concentration and suddenly she was committing avoidable errors. The second set went 7-5 to Bouchard, when Ivanovic double-faulted on her serve in the 12th game. In the final set, Bouchard raised her game and secured a break, when Ivanovic sent an easy backhand into the net. From this point onwards, the Canadian teenager was all poise and full of calmness, not seen in the girls of her age. It made clinching the third set relatively easier for her.
In the other women’s quarterfinal match, played earlier, double Australian-Open finalist Li Na displayed fantastic performance in defeating the Italian 28th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-2. Pennetta was out-of-sorts against Li Na, who converted five break opportunities, out of the eight she got and fired 23 winners against 17 unforced errors. Pennetta, on the other hand committed 27 unforced errors and literally gifted the match to Li Na on a platter.
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