MELBOURNE, Australia -- Novak Djokovic's bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title ended in a five-set quarterfinal loss to Stanislas Wawrinka that opens up the prospects of a new major champion.
No. 8-seeded Wawrinka lost 14 head-to-head matchups to Djokovic until a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 win Tuesday night put him into a semifinal that very few expected against No. 7 Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic held off Wawrinka 12-10 in the fifth set in a 5-hour, 2-minute fourth-rounder that finished at 1:41 a.m. here last year -- the longest Grand Slam match of the season -- en route to his third straight Australian title. He also edged Wawrinka in five sets in the US Open semifinals in September.
This time, it was Wawrinka's turn.
"Last year was really tough, but this year I came back it was a new year," he said. "I tried everything. He's an amazing champion. He never gives up. I'm really, really, really, really, really, really happy."
This one took exactly four hours and featured some stunning rallies, with both players openly showing amazement at some of the shots coming back from the other side. To add to the drama, there was a five-minute rain delay with Wawrinka serving at 5-5 in the fifth.
Djokovic frequently held up and pinched his thumb and forefinger together to show how close the shots were to hitting or missing the lines. The six-time major winner had to constantly serve to stay in the match after an early exchange of breaks in the fifth set.
After all the superb shot-making, it was a mishit from Wawrinka that set up match point. Djokovic chased the floating service return to the net but skewed his cross-court drop shot too wide. He then missed a volley on match point, ending a run of 28 consecutive wins dating to his US Open final defeat to Rafael Nadal.
"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. The only thing I can say is congratulations."
Djokovic hadn't lost at Melbourne Park since 2010, when he went down to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals, and has been unquestionably the best player at Rod Laver Arena since 2011.
He was installed as the tournament favorite immediately after the draw, when he landed on the opposite side to top-ranked Nadal, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and 17-time major winner Roger Federer. Nadal plays 22-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals Wednesday, when Murray and Federer go head-to-head.
Berdych, a 2010 Wimbledon finalist, reached his first Australian Open semifinal when he beat No. 3-seeded David Ferrer 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Ferrer, a semifinalist here in two of the previous three years, was clearly frustrated at times, yelling at himself after points and bumping into a line judge after breaking Berdych in the sixth game of the third set.
The 31-year-old Spaniard said it was an accident in a "nervous moment" as he went for his towel, saying "It was nothing. ... I say to him 'excuse me' after that."
Ferrer could face a sanction for coming into contact with a match official.