Coming into his match with Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka had been in great form but few really anticipated that he would provide much resistance against Novak, let alone keep him on court for five hours and almost beat him.
Ultimately Novak won 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 but Wawrinka is bound to now be a crowd favourite for years to come much the same way Fernando Verdasco became after his 2009 match against Rafael Nadal.
Wawrinka was simply impressive. He hammered 16 aces down compared to Djokovic’s 9 and didn’t serve a double fault until the fourth hour of the match. He punished 69 winners to 51 from Nole but was ultimately undone but his error count.
Stan clocked 93 unforced errors to a comparatively low 66 from Novak and yet Novak only won 9 more points total for the match.
Of 409 points in the match only one was a serve and volley point as these two slugged it out, Stan producing some absolutely blinding backhands down the line at some incredibly high pressure moments.
The marathon had an impact on each players body. Towards the end of the fourth set Wawrinka, who had his inner thigh treated earlier, seemed to be beginning to cramp. In the early stages of the fifth set Novak seemed to struggle with his back, also frequently slipping as his slid around the baseline, and while Novak ended the match by ripping his shirt off, Stan finished in tears having nothing left to give.
Despite some physical niggles for Novak he is far more used to the toll these long matches take on the body and his recovery efforts to ready himself for the quarterfinals were always likely to me more successful than Stan’s – regardless of how much Stan deserved to win.
With Gilles Simon apparently taken to hospital after his five set match with Gael Monfils yesterday (with a much lower match quality) to be treated for cramps and dehydration, one can only imagine how Wawrinka will be feeling tomorrow.
Novak now faces Tomas Berdych who likely slept through a sizable chunk of the match and has so far sailed smoothly through the draw.
“That ranks right at the top as one of the most interesting and exciting matches I’ve played in my career.” -Novak Djokovic