Novak survives Swiss inquisition

Sports

Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived an early onslaught and a late fightback from Stanislas Wawrinka in a pulsating fourth-round clash to advance to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open early on Monday. The 15th-seeded Swiss had taken an early 6-1 5-2 lead over the world number one with a powerful serve and booming groundstrokes before Djokovic took greater control of the rallies and waited for Wawrinka to make mistakes.

Wawrinka, however, managed to send the match into a decider when he totally dominated the fourth set tiebreak before the world number one clinched a 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10 victory on his third match point with a cross-court backhand winner. The match, which lasted five hours and two minutes, finished at 1.40am local time. "It's really hard to find the words to describe the feeling," an exhausted Djokovic said courtside. "He deserved equally to be a winner of this match. I give him a lot of credit. He showed his qualities. He was the aggressive player on the court. He was playing well, mixing it up, using the right tactics and serving really well."

"I was just trying to hang in there and fight and give every drop of energy."

Djokovic, seeking to become the first man in the professional era to win three successive Australian Open titles, will now meet fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.

Sharapova in QF

MARIA Sharapova has lost only five games in four matches on the way to the Australian Open quarterfinals, a record at the season's first major that seems to be immaterial to the 25-year-old Russian. The No. 2-ranked Sharapova beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1 6-0 on Sunday to continue a dominant and unparalleled run.

Steffi Graf conceded only eight games in her opening four matches here in 1989, when she won the second of her three straight Australian Open titles. Monica Seles matched that mark. Sharapova has been even more dominant. She started with a pair of 6-0 6-0 wins _ the first time that has happened at a major since 1985 and then beat seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.

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