Djokovic Outlasts Defending Champion, Wawrinka

WORLD number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, defeated world number four and the defending champion, Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, 7-6; 3-6; 6-4; 4-6; 6-0 in the semifinals of the 2015 Australian Open Tennis Championships.

 Djokovic opened serving and lost only one point by a double fault but held his game. Wawrinka won his opening game without dropping a point, a pointer to things to come. Each player held serve until Wawrinka broke Djokovic in the seventh game. During changeover, Wawrinka received treatment for a slight cut above his left eye, while Djokovic hit his racket on the court in anger. 

 Wawrinka gave the break back when he lost the eight games in which he missed an easy volley to go down 0-15 and lost a long rally. Djokovic delivered two aces in winning the ninth game while Wawrinka struggled before holding the tenth game. The set went into a tiebreak, which Djokovic won by 7 points to 1.

  In the opening game of the second set, Wawrinka was down 15-40 and deuced, then followed with blistering serves and an ace that was unsuccessfully challenged to win the game. Games went with serve until Wawrinka broke Djokovic in the sixth game to go up 4-2 and win the set at 6-3. 

  The first game of the third set was a cliffhanger. Wawrinka had his first break opportunity at 30-40 but Djokovic leveled and had three consecutive advantage points annulled before clinching the game on the fourth. That game could have determined the flow, as Wawrinka lost his next service game without taking a point. Wawrinka fought hard to break Djokovic in the third game in which Djokovic won a 27-shot rally.  Wawrinka needed a couple of deuces before taking his service game but Djokovic was broken at love in the fifth. Games went with serve until the tenth game when Djokovic came back from 0-40 to deuce and then held on to the advantage point in winning game and set 6-4.

  Djokovic took the momentum into the fourth set winning his game to lead 1-0.  Wawrinka lost a long drawn out second game to give Djokovic the break for a 2-0 lead. However, Djokovic lost his next serve and Wawrinka came up from 0-40 on his serve to with the fourth game. He took Djokovic’s serve again to win the seventh game and lead by 4-3. Wawrinka changed racket to serve and held. The Swiss dictated the rallies and held on to win the set at 6-4.

  In the deciding fifth set, Djokovic began grunting louder and louder and won a 16-shot rally and needed two advantage points before taking the game. He broke Wawrinka’s first serve and held to win the third game. He took his opponent’s serve again to lead 4-0. The fifth game was drawn out, with Wawrinka having game point at 30-40. A backhand passing shot winner gave Djokovic the deuce. He had the first advantage but lost it and growled. 

  On the third advantage, he roared loud and took the game with an ace.  That growl seemed to generate the ferocity that had been missing for most of the match. With Stan serving to stay in the match, Djokovic hit a lob over him to level at 30-all. At 30-40, and match-point, Wawrinka hit a backhand winner down the line, to level. But on the next advantage to Novak, Wawrinka’s forehand went wide to give the game to Djokovic at 6-0. The match lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

The great American player, Frank Shields once told me in Southampton USA in 1971: “Jacob, don’t try to hit an offensive shot from a defensive position. You can go on the offensive when balanced not when struggling to reach the ball”. Tennis games are lost, not won. Djokovic is a master at keeping the ball in play, making the opponent hit more shots until the other player eventually misses! That was what played out in the second semifinal match in Melbourne Park last night. 

  The statistics reveal that Wawrinka was the aggressor. He delivered 10 aces to Djokovic’s five. He double-faulted four times while his opponent double-faulted thrice. He hit 42 outright winners to the 27 by Djokovic and correspondingly 69 unforced errors to his opponent’s 49. The total tally revealed Djokovic having a total of 154 points to Wawrinka’s 139.

  In the finals tomorrow, Djokovic will face Andy Murray, another unyielding retriever.

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