It was never easy, but Novak Djokovic was able to finally get past Stanislas Wawrinka in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open.
This was truly an instant classic as both sides never seemed to give up, but Djokovic was able to win by a score of 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10.
Djokovic is the No. 1 seed and coming in was the consensus favorite to win the tournament. He is not only the top-ranked player in the world, but he has won in Melbourne in each of the past two years and three times in his career.
In his first few matches, the Serbian looked like the dominant player that fits this description. He defeated Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round, American Ryan Harrison in the second and then Radek Stepanek in Round 3, all in straight sets.
However, Wawrinka gave him much more trouble.
The Swiss player got off to an unbelievable start on the defending champion, winning the first set by a score of 6-1. Wawrinka won nine of his 11 first serves and he won all three of his break points.
In addition, Djokovic struggled with unforced errors in the first set and he lost in only 25 minutes.
Things started to normalize as the match went on, although the challenger never really backed down and every set was a challenge. Wawrinka tied the match in the fourth set and gave a great battle throughout the fifth.
In the end, however, the top seed was able to escape with a narrow win in the final set.
Wawrinka had never advanced past the third round of the Australian Open until this year, but he gave a valiant effort in a difficult matchup to provide the most entertaining match of the tournament so far.
After surviving this difficult test, it does not get any easier for Djokovic. He must now face Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
The No. 5 seed has not lost a set in any of his four matches in the quarterfinals.
With both Andy Murray and Roger Federer on the other side of the bracket, Berdych could be Djokovic's toughest opponent until the finals. He has the experience and skill necessary to give the top seed a fight, especially if he plays like he did in the previous bout.
Whoever is able to come on top in this quarterfinal matchup will face the winner of No. 4 David Ferrer and No. 10 Nicolas Almagro in the semifinals.
Djokovic certainly has a nice path to the finals, but he will have to perform better than he did against Stanislas Wawrinka.
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