I couldn’t have argued if I had lost, says Serb

WORLD No1 Novak Djokovic was left almost speechless after prevailing in a five-set marathon against 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open yesterday.

The Serb came from a set down to lead 2-1 and then drew on the experience of his five grand slam wins to see off the dogged Swiss 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 12-10 in a match that finished at 1:43am in Melbourne. Djokovic, who is set to face Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the last eight tomorrow, admitted it would have been no injustice if his quest for a fourth Australian Open title had ended.

“It’s really hard to find the words to describe the feeling we had tonight, especially in the fifth set,” he said after the five-hour epic.

“He equally deserved to be a winner of this match. I give him a lot of credit; he has my respect. He showed his quality and was the aggressive player on the court.

“Even at a set and 5-3 down I believed I could come back. When you are not playing the way you want to play, you just try to fight and hope for the best.”

Wawrinka saved two match points at 11-10 in the final set before Djokovic returned two blistering shots at full stretch and clinched victory with a magnificent topspin cross-court backhand.

Berdych progressed with a straight-sets win over South African Kevin Anderson, while fourth seed David Ferrer overcame Japan’s Kei Nishikori with ease and 10th seed Nicolas Almagro benefited from eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic’s retirement.

Women’s second seed Maria Sharapova dropped just one game against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and is set to meet fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals. Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated former world No1 Ana Ivanovic and will play 2011 French Open champion Li Na in the last eight, after she beat German Julia Goerges.

Britain’s Andy Murray is firm favourite to progress against a jaded Gilles Simon when he meets the 14th seed this morning.

Simon, who has lost his last nine matches against the Scot, needed three hours of treatment after his five-hour, third-round win over fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils.