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Djokovic survives five-set epic

By The Assam Tribune

MELBOURNE, Jan 30 (Agencies): Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will renew their Australian Open final rivalry after the world No.1 overcame defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 in Friday�s semi-final.

Djokovic has twice got the better of Murray in Melbourne�s showpiece final - in 2011 and 2013 - and will face the British No.1, who beat Tomas Berdych on Thursday, on Sunday having edged out last year�s champion Wawrinka in a fierce encounter. For Djokovic, it will be a fifth Australian Open final appearance to match Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg�s record.

Their previous three grand slam clashes were all decided in five sets and, for the third successive year on the Rod Laver Arena court, this one went the distance.

Wawrinka broke serve to move 4-2 ahead in the opening set - causing Djokovic to smash his racket in frustration � but an untimely stoppage to receive eye drops handed the Serb an immediate response. After 12 games of tennis, the first set was settled on the tie-breaker; Djokovic dictated the pace as Wawrinka�s unforced error proved too costly.

Djokovic began the second in similar fashion and Wawrinka had to muster everything he could just to hold serve. However, the Swiss settled and forced the break to move 4-2 ahead. There were no eye drops this time, just a thrillingly contested game as Wawrinka secured the breakthrough after deuce. Two games later and Djokovic had dropped his first set of the tournament.

Wawrinka tried to dictate play early in set three but his impatience, combined with more missed opportunities and a mounting unforced error count, handed Djokovic a three-game lead without reply. The champion came from nowhere to break back and level and looked set to hold at 40-15 in a crucial 10th game. However, Djokovic found another gear with several pulsating returns to clinch the set against the serve.

That set took 52 minutes to complete but 11 minutes into the fourth and Djokovic was again gifted an advantage. A netted forehand from Wawrinka, another to add to his over-abundance of errors, gave the four-time champion the break, only for him to slump on his own serve and hand momentum back the other way. More below-par serving from Djokovic allowed Wawrinka to break again and send the match into a decider.

The finale opened with another marathon game, which ended with Djokovic giving the line judge an intimidating stare following a wrong call. He then broke serve and, from there, Wawrinka�s defence was over.

Djokovic served through to earn victory with a bagel after an energy-sapping three plus hours on court which, combined with his surprisingly subdued performance, will increase Murray�s confidence come Sunday.

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