Novak knocked out
A BRILLIANT Stanislas Wawrinka ended Novak Djokovic's three-year reign at Melbourne Park yesterday, closing out a five-set classic at a heaving Rod Laver Arena to sensationally dump the Serb from the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Heartbroken by Djokovic in two five-set epics in Melbourne and the United States Open last year, the eighth-seeded Swiss played out of his skin to upset his Grand Slam nemesis 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 in an exhilarating four hours.
Despite having a 2-15 record against Djokovic going into the match, Wawrinka stayed cool in a deciding set of unrelenting tension, sealing it when the former world No. 1 pushed a shot wide on match point.
His triumph blew the tournament wide open, setting up a semi-final with Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, while snapping the Serb's 28-match winning streak.
Berdych himself had caused a minor upset earlier, beating world No. 3 David Ferrer 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach his maiden Australian Open semi-final.
"(Djokovic's) an amazing champion, he never gives up. I'm really, really, really happy," Wawrinka said in a courtside interview.
"I was really focused, point after point. I had to stay aggressive, not give up. I was tired, I was cramping a bit, I was nervous too. But, now, I'm going to have an ice bath for a very long time.
"Last year was really tough, this year, it's a new year."
The stunning defeat halted Djokovic's 28-match unbeaten run since the US Open final and his 25-match winning streak at the Australian Open stretching back to 2011.
He also became the first defending champion to lose before the semi-finals at the Australian Open since Rafael Nadal retired injured against Andy Murray in the quarter-finals in 2009.
Meanwhile, teenager Eugenie Bouchard reinforced her status as one of tennis' most exciting prospects by upsetting Ana Ivanovic to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
The 19-year-old Canadian, the Women's Tennis Association's newcomer of the year in 2013, came from a set down to beat the 14th-ranked Serb 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 and set up a last-four clash with China's Li Na.
Li dispatched Italy's Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 in just over an hour to reach the last four for the fourth time in five years at Melbourne Park.