The stage is set for Stan v Novak III. Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic featured in two of the best matches in the 2013 and 2014 Australian Opens and will Friday meet for the third year in a row in a semi-final to be savoured.
Although Djokovic has won 16 of the 19 matches he has played against Wawrinka, their most recent encounters have been thrillers. Djokovic won 12-10 when they met in the fourth round two years ago and went on to win the title for the third year in succession.
Last year it was Wawrinka’s turn to win a marathon, taking the fifth set of their quarter-final 9-7 to end Djokovic’s three-year reign at Melbourne Park. Instead, it was the Swiss who went on to claim his maiden Grand Slam title.
Wawrinka secured his latest meeting with the world No 1 by beating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. The victory avenged Wawrinka’s defeat by Nishikori at last year’s US Open. Djokovic won the concluding quarter-final, crushing Milos Raonic 7-6, 6-4, 6-2.
A Russia-United States final is guaranteed in the women’s singles after Serena Williams and Madison Keys won their quarter-finals to set up a match between the two Americans in today’s semi-finals. The other semi-final is an all-Russian confrontation between Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova.
Keys reached her first Grand Slam semi-final after grinding out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Venus Williams. Keys took a medical time-out midway through the second set after a recurrence of a thigh injury, but the 19-year-old returned to win a tight deciding set.
Serena Williams had less trouble overcoming Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2. However, the American coughed and spluttered throughout the match. “I’ve been sick the past few days, and it’s just getting worse and worse,” Williams said. “I heard there’s a virus going around, and I think I caught it.”