Six Epic Matches Between Novak & Stan

Pair to face off in maiden Wimbledon meeting on Friday
July 06, 2023
Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic embrace after the Swiss claims the 2015 Roland Garros title.
Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic embrace after the Swiss claims the 2015 Roland Garros title. By Andy West

A Lexus ATP Head2Head rivalry that has produced a host of classic encounters comes to Wimbledon for the first time on Friday, when Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka clash at the grass-court major.

The former World No. 3 Wawrinka is trying to complete a full set of Grand Slam victories against 23-time major champion Djokovic, having already defeated the Serbian at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open. Roger Federer is the only player to have completed that feat against the seven-time year-end World No. 1.

“I think it's an honour to play Novak here,” said Wawrinka after his second-round triumph against Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Thursday in London. “I was missing that in my career, to play him in Wimbledon. That's the last [major where] I never played him, and it's going to be a difficult challenge.”

Ahead of the 27th tour-level meeting between seven-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic and three-time major winner Wawrinka, looks back on six of the duo’s most epic Grand Slam battles.

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2013 Australian Open R16, Djokovic d Wawrinka 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(5), 12-10
Wawrinka’s 2013 Australian Open campaign ended in fourth-round defeat, but it was arguably the moment the Swiss announced himself on the Grand Slam stage. Playing to reach his maiden major quarter-final, he led the defending champion 6-1, 5-2 before Djokovic prevailed in a nailbiting deciding set for a five-hour, two-minute triumph on Rod Laver Arena.

After holding off Wawrinka, Djokovic went on to lift his fourth Australian Open title to kick-start a 2013 season in which he also lifted three ATP Masters 1000 crowns and triumphed at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.

2013 US Open SF, Djokovic d Wawrinka 2-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
The rest of 2013 also proved fruitful for Wawrinka, who broke the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in May with a final run in Madrid. The Swiss then charged to his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open, where he and Djokovic played out their second major classic of the year on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

As in Melbourne, Wawrinka led Djokovic by a set and a break in New York, but Djokovic stayed cool once again to overhaul the Swiss and claim a four-hour, nine-minute victory that earned him a place in his fourth consecutive US Open final (l. to Nadal).

<a href=''>Stan Wawrinka</a>/<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a>
Djokovic's 2013 US Open semi-final win was his 12th in a 14-match winning streak against Wawrinka. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty.

2014 Australian Open QF, Wawrinka d Djokovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7
Wawrinka entered the 2014 Australian Open quarter-finals with an 0-3 record against Djokovic at the majors, but past disappointments did nothing to deter the Swiss. He avenged his pair of fifth-set heartaches from the previous year by prevailing in yet another epic battle with his great rival. It was Wawrinka's jaw-dropping power that eventually overwhelmed Djokovic's renowned defence in a way few others on Tour could manage.

With his four-hour victory, Wawrinka ended a 25-match winning streak at Melbourne Park for Djokovic, who was chasing his fourth consecutive title at the hard-court major. The Swiss backed up that win in style, defeating Tomas Berdych and then Rafael Nadal on Rod Laver Arena to claim his maiden Grand Slam title at the age of 28.

2015 Australian Open SF, Djokovic d Wawrinka 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0
Djokovic reasserted his Grand Slam dominance over Wawrinka a year later in Melbourne, where the Serbian roused a scintillating finish to claim another five-setter en route to his fifth Australian Open crown.

Djokovic’s triumph in Melbourne, where he defeated Andy Murray in the final, began a year of unprecedented success for the Serbian. He lifted a personal-best 11 tour-level titles in 2015, including two further major wins at Wimbledon and the US Open, six ATP Masters 1000 crowns and victory at the Nitto ATP Finals.

2015 Roland Garros F, Wawrinka d Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
In that year of almost non-stop success for Djokovic, it was Wawrinka who ultimately prevented the Serbian from completing the Grand Slam — winning all four majors in the same season — in stunning fashion at Roland Garros. Djokovic became just the second player to defeat Rafael Nadal at the clay-court major in the quarter-finals but was unable to resist a barrage of clean baseline hitting from Wawrinka, who delivered a stunning championship-match display.

“It was a part of my career [in which] I was playing such a good level that I knew, when I was entering the court against Novak in a Grand Slam, I was able to beat him,” reflected Wawrinka on Tuesday at Wimbledon. “I have a powerful game from the baseline — forehand, backhand — and I was physically ready to compete with him. I had some amazing matches, probably the two best matches of my career at Roland Garros [in 2015] and the US Open [in 2016].”

<a href=''>Stan Wawrinka</a>
An inspired Stan Wawrinka defeats Novak Djokovic in the 2015 final at Roland Garros. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty.

2016 US Open F, Wawrinka d Djokovic 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3
Wawrinka rallied in tough conditions to stay perfect in Grand Slam finals and become a three-time major winner as he physically outlasted Djokovic on Arthur Ashe Stadium in at the 2016 US Open. The then-31-year-old Wawrinka’s three-hour, 55-minute triumph against the defending champion made him just the fifth man in the Open Era to win multiple singles crowns after turning 30.

“I think [they were] two different kinds of match,” recalled Wawrinka of his Roland Garros and US Open final triumphs. “I think tennis-wise, probably [Roland Garros was better]. I think that's where I was playing the best. I think mentally or physically, more the US Open. We had a tough last four, five days of the tournament. It was really humid, really physical for both of us. We played some really tough battles to get into the final. So, [it was a] different feeling.”

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