World number one Novak Djokovic earned his place in the Australian Open final with a hard-fought five set victory over defending champion Stan Wawrinka, with Andy Murray now the only man standing in the Serbian's way of claiming a fifth title in Melbourne.
Djokovic and Wawrinka had played out five set epics at the past two Australian Open's, with the winner then progressing to claim the overall prize, Djokovic winning in 2013 and Wawrinka the victor of last years' tournament.
The first set progressed to a tie-break with both players having moments of frustration as Wawrinka was unable to consolidate an early break of the Djokovic serve as the world number one immediately broke back, while the Serbian saw two set points slip away, courtesy of two Wawrinka aces.
Ultimately it was frustration for the Swiss defending champion as a series of errors saw Djokovic race in a 5-0 lead in the tie break and did not let the opportunity pass by again, sealing the first set tie break 7-1.
Wawrinka's blip appeared to be continuing as Djokovic had two early opportunities to break serve in the opening game of the second set, but Wawrinka saved both before claiming a break of his own as the momentum shifted.
Unlike the opening set the number four seed refused to let Djovokic to fight back and levelled the match at a set apiece, and the Rod Laver Arena crowd braced themselves for another marathon encounter.
The opening of the third set had a case of déjà vu with Wawrinka failing to take an early break opportunity, as Djokovic had in the second, allowing the momentum to shift back to the Serbian, who duly took advantage breaking serve and although Wawrinka hit back, Djokovic's second break of the set gave him the advantage once again.
With the Swiss star now on the brink of defeat, the quality of the match rose to its peak, with both men trading breaks, but Wawrinka was able to take the set, as the match appeared to be building to a climax.
Instead, the defending champion was unable to sustain the high level into the decider and Djokovic punished him, cruising through 6-0 in the final set to advance from the semi-final.
The fact that Djokovic's semi-final went the full distance could potentially to the benefit of Andy Murray, who following his semi-final victory against Tomas Berdych yesterday has the advantage of an extra days rest, with the final due to take place on Sunday (February 1).
Meanwhile, the women's doubles saw a newly formed pairing claim the honours, as Bethanie Mattek-Sands of America and the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova earned the Australian Open title, in their first event together, defeating Yung-Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei and China's Jie Zheng 6-4 -7-5.
The women's singles final is scheduled to place tomorrow, with Serena Williams hoping to continue her impressive head to head record against Maria Sharapova, to take the crown for a fifth time but the first since 2010.
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