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Deposed Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has praised Stanislas Wawrinka’s “mental strength” after the Serb was dumped out of the Melbourne tournament.
Djokovic has tasted glory for the last three years at the season’s first Grand Slam but his reign is now over after the four-time winner of the tournament crashed out in five sets in the quarter-finals.
Wawrinka’s 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7 win means Djokovic’s run of 14 straight semi-final appearances at the big four events is over – and it also sends him back to the drawing board with new coach Boris Becker.
Djokovic said: “I think it was quite even. From the start I played better. I had some opportunities early in the second to get the break and I didn’t use that.
“He served extremely well from the beginning to the end. Every time he was in trouble, he was coming up with big serves. He took his opportunities.”
The Swiss eventually secured victory when Djokovic placed a volley wide but the world number two had no complaints over the outcome of the epic five-setter.
He added: “He deserved this win. I congratulate him absolutely. I gave it my best. I gave it all. I tried to come out as the winner. I tried to fight until the last point as I did last year (against Wawrinka in the fourth round).
“It’s the same court, but it wasn’t to be this time.”
Wawrinka now goes on to face seventh seed Tomas Berdych in the last four and is 1.73 to continue his run in Victoria while the Czech player is 2.14 to play his way into the Australian Open final.