By Dennis Passa
MELBOURNE, Australia: Novak Djokovic continued an upsetting trend at the Australian Open. The three-time defending champion, Djokovic joined Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as unexpected early departures from the season’s first major with a quarterfinal loss Tuesday night to Stanislas Wawrinka.
Djokovic came into the match with 28 consecutive wins 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, including two five-set wins the last time they met in Grand Slam matches last year at the Australian and U.S Opens.
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 match of the season.
All those streaks ended in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 win Tuesday by Wawrinka, Roger Federer’s sometimes Swiss doubles partner and who is into the semifinals of a Grand Slam 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 a quarterfinal today, 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 four hours and featured long rallies that tested the resolve, patience and shot-making ability of both players.
At the end, it was a mis-hit 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. He then missed a volley on match point.
Djokovic was quick to praise Wawrinka, heading to his media interview obligations just minutes after the match ended.
“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.”
After reaching the semifinals at back-to-back majors for the first time, Wawrinka, 28, will be playing for a place in his first Grand Slam final — in 36 attempts dating back to 2005 — when he meets No. 7-seeded Tomas Berdych, who beat third-ranked David Ferrer 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Eugenie Bouchard is playing in just her fourth major, and already has advanced to the last four in the tournament.
Bouchard, 19, became the first Canadian to make the semifinals of the Australian Open — and only the second player from her country to make the semis of any Grand Slam — when she beat Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
Bouchard next plays No. 4-seeded Li Na on Thursday for a chance to reach the final. Li, the 2011 French Open champion and two-time Australian finalist, beat Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 in the first of the quarterfinals.
Dominika Cibulkova won the last eight games in a one-hour, 6-3, 6-0 quarterfinal rout today of No. 11-seeded Simona Halep of Romania. Cibulkova will play the winner of the match between Victoria Azarenka, who is attempting to win her third consecutive title here, and Agnieszka Radwanska.
The top half of the men’s draw plays its quarterfinals today when top-ranked Rafael Nadal takes on 22-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Murray plays Federer.