MELBOURNE: Top seed Novak Djokovic ended Stan Wawrinka’s title defence on Friday with another five-set clash to book a third final showdown with Andy Murray at the Australian Open.
Though not quite the level of their thrilling marathons at the last two tournaments, the grinding 7-6(1) 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-0 win under the lights of Rod Laver Arena was riven by tension until the final one-sided set.
Both players had their chances, with Djokovic fluffing his lines when 2-0 up and closing in on victory in the fourth set.
Wawrinka clawed his way back, breaking the Serb and saving three break points with some brilliant play before roaring on to force a fifth set.
Fourth seed Wawrinka had a chance to break Djokovic in the opening game of the decider, but blasted a backhand long.
From there he promptly crumbled.
With Wawrinka double-faulting twice to gift Djokovic the break, the steely-eyed Serb marched on, setting up match point with a searing backhand down the line and closing it out when his opponent struck his 69th unforced error.
Though having played far from his best tennis, Djokovic will bid to become the first man in the professional era to win five titles at Melbourne Park on Sunday when he faces Murray, who he defeated in the final in 2011 and 2013. (Reuters)