MELBOURNE(Reuters): Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived an early onslaught and a late fightback from Stanislas Wawrinka in a pulsating fourth-round clash to advance to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open early on Monday.
The 15th-seeded Swiss had taken an early 6-1 5-2 lead over the world number one with a powerful serve and booming groundstrokes before Djokovic took greater control of the rallies and waited for Wawrinka to make mistakes.
Wawrinka, however, managed to send the match into a decider when he totally dominated the fourth set tiebreak before the world number one clinched a 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10 victory on his third match point with a cross-court backhand winner.
The match, which lasted five hours and two minutes, finished at 0140 (1440 GMT).
“It’s really hard to find the words to describe the feeling,” an exhausted Djokovic said courtside.
“He deserved equally to be a winner of this match. I give him a lot of credit. He showed his qualities.
“He was the aggressive player on the court. He was playing well, mixing it up, using the right tactics and serving really well.
“I was just trying to hang in there and fight and give every drop of energy.”
Djokovic, seeking to become the first man in the professional era to win three successive Australian Open titles, will now meet fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.