Djokovic into quarters after instant classic

18:40, Jan 20 2013
Australian Open 2013
Janko Tipsarevic celebrates his straight sets win over Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.
Australian Open 2013
Ana Ivanovic celebrates a point during her match against Melinda Czink.
Australian Open 2013
A packed house shows up to watch local Lleyton Hewitt's first round match at Rod Laver Arena.
Australian Open 2013
Lleyton Hewitt's returns a point during his loss to Janko Tipsarevic.
Australian Open 2013
David Ferrer lies on court after throwing himself at a point during his first round win over Olivier Rochus.
Australian Open 2013
Fan show their home town support on day one.
Australian Open 2013
Maria Sharapova serves during her first round win.
AustralianOpen
Novak Djokovic on his way to a first round straight sets victory.
Australian Open
Caroline Wozniacki in action during her first round match against Sabine Lisicki.
Australian Open
Andy Murray returns a shot against Robin Haase on day two of the Australian Open.
Serena Williams
Chair umpire Kerrilyn Cramer comes to the aid of Serena Williams after she fell heavily during her match against Romanian Edina Gallovits-Hall.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer during his first round match against Benoit Paire of France.
Australian Open
Bernard Tomic keeps his eye on the ball.
Australian Open
Melbourne Park is lit up for the night session on day two.
Australian Open
Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia does the splits in her first round match against Yanina Wickmayer.
Australian Open
Gael Monfils celebrates a point during his first round match.
Australian Open
Fans scramble for signatures from Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro.
Australian Open
No 1 seed Victoria Azarenka in action on day two.
Australian Open
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland hits a return to Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.
Australian Open
Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain hits a return to compatriot Nicolas Almagro during their men's singles match at the Australian Open.
Nishikori
Kei Nishikori of Japan plays a backhand in his second round match against Carlos Berlocq of Argentina.
Australian Open
Jerzy Janowicz exploded in rage after losing a 79-minute set to India’s Somdev Devvarman.
Australian Open
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic plays a backhand in his second round match against Guillaume Rufin of France.
Sam Stosur
Sam Stosur exits Rod Laver Arena after her second round defeat to China's Zheng Jie
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova waits for a serve from Japan's Misaki Doi during her second round roll-over.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic lost just six games as he cruised to a straight sets victory over American Ryan Harrison.
Australian Open
Heather Watson of Great Britain celebrates with fans after her second round singles win.
Australian Open
Bob and Mike Bryan perform their trademark chest bump after winning their opening doubles match.
Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her second round match against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays a backhand in his second round match against Go Soeda of Japan.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams of the United States of America plays a backhand in her second round match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray plays a forehand in his second round match against Joao Sousa of Portugal during day four of the 2013 Australian Open
Bernard Tomic
Bernard Tomic recovered from losing a first set tie-breaker to defeat German qualifier Daniel Brands in four sets.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer picked up early breaks in each set to defeat Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets in Melbourne.
Roger Federer
The pink and black shoes of Roger Federer.
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Stefan 'Redfoo' Gordy of the American electro duo LMFAO attends the MLC Hotshots session at the Australian Open.
Australian Open
Angelique Kerber of Germany hits a return to Madison Keys of the US.
Australian Open
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland plays a forehand in her third round match against Heather Watson of Great Britain.
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Maria Sharapova celebrates her 6-1, 6-3 victory over Venus Williams.
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Tomas Berdych returns a shot during his match against Jurgen Melzer.
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Ana Ivanovic pumps her fist after beating fellow Serbian Jelena Jankovic.
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Novak Djokovic is at full strength during his win over Radek Stepanek.
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Jamie Hampton celebrates winning the second set during her women's singles match against Victoria Azarenka.
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Victoria Azarenka hits a return to Jamie Hampton.
Michael Chardy
Frenchman, world number 36, Michael Chardy lines up the ball in his Australia Open third round victory over sixth-seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray exclaims his satisfaction at beating Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in the third round of the Australian Open.
Australian Open
Gael Monfils is doubled over with exhaustion during his epic third round match against Gilles Simon.
Australian Open
Bernard Tomic and Roger Federer share a pat on the back after their third round match.
Australian Open
Serena and Venus Williams whisper tactics during their second round doubles match.
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Caroline Wozniacki returns a shot during her third round win.
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David Ferrer of Spain serves to Kei Nishikori of Japan during their men's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
David Ferrer of of Spain plays a forehand in his fourth round match against Kei Nishikori.
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia hits a return to Angelique Kerber of Germany during their women's singles match at the Australian Open
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia hits a return to Angelique Kerber of Germany during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
Angelique Kerber of Germany receives medical treatment during her women's singles match against Ekaterina Makarova.
Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
Sharapova
Maria Sharapova (right) of Russia after her fourth round match against Kirsten Flipkens.
Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic celebrates after his five-hour, two-minute five-set victory over Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round at the Australian Open.
Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic is certain she is in good form despite exiting yet another major before the quarter-finals.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova has lost just five games in her four wins at this year's Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
ictoria Azarenka of Belarus hits a return to Elena Vesnina of Russia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open 2013
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (right) kisses Elena Vesnina of Russia after defeating her in their women's singles match at the Australian Open.
Australian Open
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates making it into the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray of Britain celebrates defeating Gilles Simon of France.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams of the US serves to Maria Kirilenko of Russia.
Australian Open
Roger Federer of Switzerland serves to Milos Raonic of Canada.
Australian Open
Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates winning the second set during his men's singles match against Milos Raonic.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray signs autographs after his fourth round victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Australian Open
Li Na celebrates her win over fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
Australian Open
Nicolas Almagro of Spain (L) congratulates compatriot David Ferrer after Ferrer won their men's singles quarter-final.
Australian Open
David Ferrer of Spain reacts during his men's singles quarter-final match against compatriot Nicolas Almagro.
Australian Open
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia plays a backhand in her Quarterfinal match against Maria Sharapova.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.
Australian Open
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates defeating Ekaterina Makarova.
Australian Open 2013
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates defeating Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams does the splits during her quarterfinals loss to compatriot Sloane Stephens.
Serena Williams
Sloane Stephens of the US (R) shakes hands with compatriot Serena Williams after defeating her in their women's singles quarter-final match.
Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus celebrates winning her Quarterfinal match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Australian Open
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia looks on after falling in her Quarterfinal match against Victoria Azarenka.
Andy Murray  celebrates his win over Jeremy Chardy.
Andy Murray celebrates his win over Jeremy Chardy.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray during his match against Jeremy Chardy.
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France reacts in his Quarterfinal match against Roger Federer.
Australian Open
Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his Quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
Li Na
Li Na swept Maria Sharapova aside 6-2 6-2 in the first semifinal at the Australian Open.
Maria Sharapova
It was not Maria Sharapova's day, winning just four games in a straight sets loss to Li Na.
Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a backhand in her Semifinal match against Sloane Stephens of the United States.
Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens of the United States of America plays a backhand in her Semifinal match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to David Ferrer of Spain.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer of Spain reacts during his men's singles semi-final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray missed a chance to serve out the match in the fourth set, but finished off Roger Federer in the fifth.
Roger Federer
A dejected Roger Federer during his post-match press conference.
Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka bursts into tears after defeating Li Na for back-to-back Australian Open titles.
Victoria Azarenka
Belarusian Victoria Azarenka kisses the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in the locker room as women's singles champion.
Li Na
China's Li Na grimaces after injuring her left ankle during the Australian Open women's final.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point during his Australian Open final victory over Andy Murray.

The task of beating the world number one is not achieved by matching excellence but by sustaining it. A Swiss player who was not Roger Federer found he could play Novak Djokovic, and for five hours he could stay with him.

But after five sets, five hours and two minutes, and at 1.41am, Novak Djokovic finally prevailed over journeyman Stan Wawrinka in the most extraordinary match of the Australian Open.

"It's hard to find the words to describe the feeling we had tonight, especially in the fifth set. He deserved equally to be a winner of this match," Djokovic said after winning 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 early on Monday.

Novak Djokovic
MARATHON MAN: Novak Djokovic celebrates after his five-hour, two-minute five-set victory over Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round at the Australian Open.

"I give him a lot of credit, he has my respect ... he was the aggressive player on the court. I was just trying to hang in there, trying to fight. This match means a lot to me and to him.

"It's incredible, it's nearly 2am and so many people stayed to watch, it brings back the memories from 12 months ago with Rafa.

''The body feels great, it's only five hours of a match," he joked, when asked about the toll the five-set epic would take on his body. "We are only midway through the tournament but it feels like a final to me."

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Djokovic confronted the very real possibility that for the first time in 15 consecutive grand slams he would not make the quarter-finals. Not since he was dismissed in the third round of the French Open in 2009 has the reigning world number one not featured in at least the quarter-final stages of a grand slam.

The ousting of Djokovic from the tournament would have opened up a chance for Federer to re-claim the number one ranking, were he to go on and win the Open and thus also claim an 18th major.

It was not to be. Djokovic, challenged and out-played for long periods, displayed his peerless ability to hunt down balls others would not and drew on the confidence that comes from having won three of the last five major tournaments.

"I just believed all the time I could fight my way back into the match... it could have really gone either way, this match," Djokovic said.

Wawrinka played superbly, then mentally baulked, went into his shell, came out again, cramped, fatigued, picked the crowd up to go with him, and pushed, cajoled, made errors on line calls, harried, hustled, and fought, but eventually, after five exhausting hours, he had to concede defeat.

Wawrinka ensured early on that this was a night to up-end sporting assumptions when he not only won the first set but also totally outclassed Djokovic. He broke Djokovic in an extraordinary five consecutive service games to take the set 6-1 in just 25 minutes. Djokovic was not necessarily playing poorly, Wawrinka was simply playing much better.

The pep in Wawrinka's game seemed to take Djokovic by surprise. Not that he would underestimate a 15th seed, but there would have been a reasonable expectation he would have Wawrinka covered, having beaten him the last 10 times they have met, and not having lost to him since 2006 in Vienna when he was but a teenager.

Wawrinka skipped out to a 5-2 lead and was 30-0 up on serve, just two points from taking a two-set lead in the match when one sensed that he realised the precipice on which he stood. It seems the "is this really happening" thought began ticking through his mind as, at the moment he needed to go for the kill, he went for the hot water bottle. He looked like a man who realised he had the chance to beat the world number one and didn't know how to do it. Where he had been daring, suddenly he was cautious.

For an hour and a quarter, Djokovic was uncertain, fidgety and flummoxed for answers. He had changed his shoes - to no avail - and changed his approach to the game, also to no avail. The change in the match came not from him, but from Wawrinka.

It was like watching the look of sad fatalism in Sam Stosur's eyes as she resigned herself to an inevitability and converted certain victory into certain loss. You could see a change come over Wawrinka's face and the complexion of the match late in the second set. Djokovic seized his moment. He attacked and won six consecutive games to take the set and and gain a first-up break in the third set.

Djokovic took the third set relatively comfortably and thus had the advantage. But by then, Wawrinka had warmed to the idea that on this night he was the equal of the world number one. A Davis Cup and training partner of Roger Federer, he is not overawed by the idea of truly great players and he attacked Djokovic despite his cramping, tired legs.

Impressively, Wawrinka extinguished his self-doubt and once more began attacking. His game no longer had the blistering certainty it had in the first set and a half, but he was again drawing errors from Djokovic with his punishing backhand and heavy serve. Djokovic was doing his best to recover everything Wawrinka delivered, but even he could not squeeze back Wawrinka's ground strokes.

On the stroke of midnight the Swiss - with the efficiency of a clock - pushed the match into a new day and a fifth set.

But that set was an epic within an epic. It took 104 minutes, 22 games, and three match points, but finally, after a rally befitting the match itself, Djokovic prevailed.

The Age