Djokovic survives Aussie epic
Novak Djokovic survived an epic five-hour, five-set battle with Stanislas Wawrinka before advancing to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The defending champion won 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10, fighting his way back from a set and 5-3 down in the process before booking his place in the last eight where he will face Tomas Berdych.
Wawrinka played absolutely sublime tennis in the opening hour that Djokovic simply could not cope with.
The Swiss star - acknowledged as one of the most talented on the circuit - went for broke from the off, going for winners all over the Rod Laver Arena.
His magnificent backhand earned him a succession of winners and he broke a shell-shocked Djokovic three times in the first set, and then roared into a 5-2 lead in the second.
But the champion picked himself up, and reeled off five successive games to level it up.
When the Serb took the third set 6-4, breaking at 4-4, it looked like Wawrinka's challenge would end meekly - but he rallied superbly in the fourth.
The two went toe-to-toe with some thrilling baseline rallies to set up a tie-break, where Wawrinka quickly went 4-1 up, then 6-3 up.
Back came Djokovic, thrillingly saving two set points - but then Wawrinka went for it, whipping a brutal backhand cross court which the No 1 seed could only prod back, then putting away the winner with his forehand - two sets each.
The fifth was an incredible rollercoaster ride into the early hours for the players and an enthralled crowd, Wawrinka opening it by breaking Djokovic, only to then be broken himself in the next game.
For the next 19 games neither man could break, though at 4-4 Wawrinka missed four break points with Djokovic clinging on grimly.
The No 15 seed stood firm under immense pressure, repeatedly serving to stay in the match - until, at 10-11, Djokovic fought back from 40-15 down to deuce, then earning match point.
Warwinka saved that one with a big serve, fended off a second with a bullet backhand winner, but on the third, after another astonishing baseline rally, the Swiss approached with a backhand slice, and Djokovic won it with a glorious crosscourt backhand winner.