Friday, 30 January 2015

Djokovic in Five over Wawrinka

The second semi final in the Men's Draw promised the best tennis of the tournament with the top seed and four time winner Novak Djokovic doing battle for the third year running with fourth seed Stanislas Wawrinka, the reigning champion.

Their contests have been memorable with the winner of each going on to win the title.

Both players were decisive winners of their respective quarter finals, underscoring the excellent form displayed throughout the entire tournament to this exciting point.

Novak won the toss but hoped to win much more and he served first on the second Friday night. An ace and a double fault plus a few Wawrinka errors put the top seed on the board first. Four big first serves enabled Stan to equalise smartly. Anothe love game, this from Djokovic, completed a trifecta of games to begin the match, with not a mark on either man's serve as yet. 2-1 to Novak.

Still not many rallies but Djokovic did win a couple of the longer points when Stan netted forehands. 3-2 to Novak and no signs yet where the match was heading, both players feeling each other out.  The first test came in the sixth game where Stan missed most of his first serves but at 0-30 Djokovic could not keep enough shots in play to take advantage and it was 3-3, a classy backhand from Wawrinka the highlight.

Suddenly Djokovic was down two break points with a combination of loose shots and a winning Swiss backhand - only one break point was needed as Novak hit another forehand astray and Stan led 4-3 and looked the more assured.

Assured for five seconds at least - Djokovic broke back to love, the highlight a forehand to cause the end of a marvellous rally, Stan netting his to bring up the break points.  The tennis was starting to hot up now, with a number of mouth watering exchanges replacing the dominant serve winning points of the first handful of games - Djokovic led 5-4.

Wawrinka was in strife again on serve and Djokovic wasted two set points before Stan finally found his rhythm and two aces iced the game for 5-5.

Novak recovered from his disappointment to hold to love and Stan followed suit and the expected tie break did eventuate.

Djokovic took advantage of some Warinka bad luck, bad judgement and poor execution to run through the tie break 7-1 and take the set 7-6, an unfortunate finish to what had been an enthralling an tight contest for forty minutes.

Stan had all sorts of problems in the first game of set two, facing another two break points, but he trusted his serve and managed to find an escape route to lead 1-0, but Novak's returning was causing issues for the Swiss player.

Serve began to dominate again and at 2-3 it was Djokovic continuing to play catch up. He couldn't after a stunning Wawrinka backhand down the line pass brought up 30-30 and then Djokovic errors handed the break to the fourth seed who led 4-2.

The break was consolidated and it appeared that the match was headed for a set all with Stan ahead 5-2, his backhand now assisting him to match and often control rallies with Djokovic who had hit a poor patch.

Stan was made to serve it out and he did with his first serve behaving itself at the right time and Novak just having to accept the consequences.  6-3 Wawrinka and the match was in the balance, Djokovic to serve first in the third.

Stan was all over a jittery Djokovic serve in the first game of the third set with fantastic forehands and backhands but Djokovic survived in a game of high drama and suspense.

Novak took advantage of his escape and turned the situation completely on its head by breaking the Wawrinka serve the very next game with a combination of cross court shots to defy the Swiss game plan. 2-0 Djokovic.

3-0 with the second service hold a whole lot less complicated than the first for the now more poised number one seed.

A break point was saved and instead of being two breaks down, Stan had gained valuable confidence which he pumped into the next Novak service game and broke to love.  2-3 and back on serve.

After an easy hold for Stan, Novak returned to his expected quality to win his serve to love including a number of silky ground strokes.  Stan wasted no time in levelling again at 4-4, his first serve a fine ally.

Djokovic held serve to lead 5-4 and place the scoreboard pressure on Wawrinka who needed to hold to stay in contention for the set.  He led 40-15 but a double fault and then some wonderful cross court shot making from Djokovic culminated in a set point which Stan was incapable of preventing the top seed from converting.  Novak now led 7-6 3-6 6-4 and a five setter was again necessary should Wawrinka win this semi final. 

After a comfortable service game to lead 1-0, Djokovic set about the Wawrinka serve and broke again, a sweet backhand giving Wawrinka no choice but to net the reply. 2-0 with a serve to come.
However, as in the third set, Novak handed the break directly back with some of his more insipid play for the night. 1-2 Wawrinka but on serve and Djokovic was giving him a window of hope.

The window was almost shut when Wawrinka was down a further three break points at 0-40, but he gritted his teeth and won through with some luck and good stroke play to level at 2-2
Djokovic held more simply for 3-2.

The seventh game was a shocker for the top seed who dropped serve again and it was Wawrinka with the inside running to take the fourth set in front 4-3 and in the middle of a purple patch hitting backhands down the line for winners and forcing Djokovic into error in many of the rallies.

The set was Wawrinka's 6-4 with no fuss as he belted down his serves with style leaving Djokovic to briefly rue what might have been but more importantly concentrate on the deciding fifth set in which he would serve first.

A drama packed game with challenges all over the place and a break point saved was finally won by Djokovic and then two double faults went a large way to ending Stan's run of service holds. Djokovic 2-0 but no guarantee of consolidation given prior efforts tonight.

This time Djokovic was cool under the pressure and some delightful placement of his groundstrokes assisted him to 3-0 with still only the single break.

Wawrinka's purple patch had certainly dried up with Djokovic taking another game off the fragile looking serve of the Swiss player. 4-0 Djokovic.

Despite the double break Novak appeared nervous and at 30-40 he had to serve well. After yet another drop shot moment of madness he steadied and two fine serves, one a second delivery the next a first, put him a game away from the final, 5-0.

Stan had given his all and Novak was too good in the finish, ending with a flourish 7-6 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-0 and he would play Andy Murray for the third time in the Aus Open Final.

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