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Originally published January 21, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Page modified January 21, 2014 at 11:45 PM

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Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka exit Australian Open in quarterfinal round

Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus are the most recent upset victims at the Australian Open, the first major tennis tournament of the year.


The Associated Press

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus are the most recent upset victims at the Australian Open, the first major tennis tournament of the year.

Djokovic won the previous three men’s titles and Azarenka was the women’s champion in 2012 and last year.

Djokovic and Azarenka joined Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as unexpected early departures.

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland outlasted Djokovic in five sets in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Azarenka 6-1, 5-7, 6-0.

Djokovic came into his match with 28 consecutive victories since losing last year’s U.S. Open final to Rafael Nadal, and 25 in a row at Melbourne Park since 2010.

But the figure that really mattered was 14 — the number of consecutive matches in which Djokovic had beaten Wawrinka back to 2007. That includes two five-set decisions the last time they met in Grand Slam matches, last year at the Australian Open and U.S Open.

Djokovic held off Wawrinka 12-10 in the fifth set in a 5-hour, 2-minute fourth-rounder here last year — the longest Grand Slam tournament match of the season.

All those streaks ended in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 victory by Wawrinka, Roger Federer’s sometimes doubles partner. Wawrinka is into the semifinals of a major for the first time.

“Fourteen is enough,” Wawrinka said. “After losing two times against him in Grand Slam in five sets, I’m really happy to take that one.”

Federer, who will play Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinal round, tweeted: “So deserving for Stan the man ...”

The match, which included a five-minute rain delay with Wawrinka serving at 5-5 in the deciding set, lasted exactly four hours and featured long rallies that tested the resolve, patience and shot-making ability of both players.

At the end, it was a mishit from Wawrinka on a service return that set up match point. Djokovic chased it to the net but his cross-court drop shot was too wide. Djokovic then missed a volley on match point.

“Didn’t want to let him win that one,” Wawrinka said. “Got a little bit lucky in the last one. He missed easy shots. But in general, in the fifth set I think I went for it.”

Djokovic was quick to praise Wawrinka.

“He took his opportunities. He deserved his big win today,” Djokovic said. “There’s nothing I can say. I gave it my best, I gave it my all.

“It wasn’t to be this time. He showed his mental strength and he deserved to win.”

Meanwhile, top-seeded Nadal of Spain advanced to the semifinals by beating No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Li Na of China is the lone major winner remaining in the women’s draw.

Radwanska next plays No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. Cibulkova won the last eight games in a 6-3, 6-0 rout of No. 11-seeded Simona Halep of Romania.

Li, a two-time finalist in the Australian Open, will play No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard, a 19-year-old Canadian, in the other semifinal.

Radwanska played drop shots and slices from the baseline, forcing Azarenka to come forward and then lobbing or passing her. She hit touch volleys with precision, and instinctively anticipated Azarenka’s shots.

“She was aggressive. She was making everything. She was guessing right,” Azarenka said. “I was just playing a little bit too predictably.”



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