It was hard seeing Stanislas Wawrinka actually putting Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open champion from the previous two tournaments and the world’s number one, away. Warinka needed a perfect game for that to happen. Djokovic just needed to be himself.
And after the incredible first set of perfect serve followed by perfect shot from Wawrinka, it was Djokovic’s turn to, well, turn it on. If there’s one player that is nearly impossible to put away, it’s Djokovic, who finds inner strength when he faces defeat and hardships. He starts booming away at an accuracy no one can match, and adds these little feigns of injury to give some sort of confidence to his opponent before finishing him off. And it’s hard to see anyone else, with Djokovic in this form, beating the Serb, unless Andy Murray and/or Roger Federer raise it up another level when they do face him.
Next up in the quarter final? Tomas Berdych, who hasn’t dropped a set, but the only meaningful opponent he faced was the Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the third round, winning 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Berdych’s record vs Djokovic, 1-11 in favor of Nole, doesn’t promise us a big shocker. The only way Berdych does win this one is perfect serving, which might last for a set, maybe even two. Berdych tends to unravel once the going gets tough, sort of giving up on the match once he realizes there’s no chance. He’s lost nine consecutive matches to Djokovic, the last of them in the World Tour Finals.
The semi final will be a Spanish one – either Nicolas Almagro or David Ferrer. Almagro is another player who hasn’t dropped a set so far through the first few rounds, while Ferrer dropped one in the second round. He’s never lost to Almagro, he is 9-5 against Ferrer, beating the Spaniard in four sets the last time these two met, at the semifinal of the US Open.
From the bottom half of the draw, the most likely opponents are Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Federer, reaching his 35th consecutive quarterfinal, has Tsonga in his path. Djokovic has beaten Federer 13 times out of their 29 meetings, but more and more often in the last couple of years, including the last time they met, in the World Tour Finals to end the 2012 season with a 7-6, 7-5 Nole win. He’s 10-7 against Murray, beating the Brit in the same tournament the last time they met.