Novak Djokovic won a grueling match against Stanislas Wawrinka on Saturday in New York to advance to the 2013 U.S. Open final, 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Wawrinka got to Djokovic early on Saturday by surprisingly winning the first set in convincing fashion, 6-2.
Djokovic did not look like himself in the first set—certainly not like the No. 1 player in the world—capturing just one of nine second-serve points and 39 percent of return points. He committed 14 unforced errors, which is an uncharacteristically high number for him. With four double faults, it felt like he was in for a long haul.
He did manage to win the first game of the set, but Wawrinka stormed back, winning the next four. "Djoker" took hold of the sixth game, but the world No. 10 took the next two games to capture the opening set.
The Swiss player won 70 percent of first-serve points, 56 percent of second-serve points and 58 percent of return points while posting one ace and 10 winners.
Wawrinka's formidable serve put a stamp on the set, per the U.S. Open's official Twitter account:
Djokovic bounced back to win a brutal, 68-minute second set, 7-6. After taking an early 2-1 lead, he lost three consecutive games before taking the next three for a 5-4 advantage.
It was Wawrinka who committed a plethora of unforced errors this time, with 19. Djokovic won 68 percent of first-serve points and 78 percent of second-serve points, notching two aces and 12 winners.
Wawrinka forced a tiebreaker in the 12th game, but Djokovic held on to win, 7-4.
Djokovic was pumped after winning the second set, per the U.S Open's official Twitter account:
But Wawrinka wouldn't accept defeat, and he got back into form to win the third set, 6-3.
The Swiss and the Serb went back and forth in the first six games, with Djokovic taking the sixth to make it 3-3 in the set.
But Wawrinka took control down the stretch.
He won 76 percent of first-serve points and was able to overcome 14 unforced errors.
In the fourth set, Djokovic was determined to take back the match, winning the first three games.
This was followed by a world-class eruption by Wawrinka, per the U.S. Open's official Twitter account:
Interestingly enough, after the "Wawrinka Smash," the 28-year-old won three of the next five games.
But it wasn't enough, as Djokovic won 69 percent of his first-serve points and 80 percent of second-serve points to win the set, 6-3.
Wawrinka posted 10 winners, but he also won only 27 percent of return points while committing 14 unforced errors.
At this point, it appeared as though the world No. 1 was finally getting into a groove, and Wawrinka grew more frustrated. Top players in the world like Djokovic master more than the technical aspect of the game; they master the mental part of it.
And that appeared to be what was distancing Djokovic down the stretch—not to mention the fact that Wawrinka was determined to make this one a fight. He won a fantastic third game in the fifth set that lasted over 20 minutes.
The U.S. Open's official Twitter account tweeted out some highlights of the epic third game:
But after all of that, Djokovic quickly took the fourth game of the set to knot it up. Wawrinka's advantage disappeared in the blink of an eye.
It wasn't pretty, but Djokovic finally came away with the victory on Saturday, racking up 38 winners and nine aces. The world No. 1 committed 46 unforced errors, but he ultimately emerged victorious in a match that lasted more than four hours.
If Djokovic wants to seriously contend in the men's final, he's going to have to dig deep and raise his game. He'll play the winner of the semifinal match between Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal.