Dig through the highlight reels and it stands as arguably the match of 2013 – Novak Djokovic finding a way past the shot-making brilliance of Stanislas Wawrinka at the Australian Open.
That match, appropriately played out under the bright lights of Rod Laver Arena, was more befitting a Grand Slam final, not a fourth round arm-wrestle.
Now for the rematch Melbourne Park has been waiting for, after the tournament’s eighth seed sent Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo packing in straight sets 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(5) on Sunday night.
It’s Novak v Stan Round 2.
Actually, Round 3.
Ignoring the lopsided 15-2 head-to-head in the Serbian’s favour, the two matches that mattered came in Grand Slams last season.
After the brilliance of the aforementioned Australian Open five-setter, the pair went toe to toe in the semi-finals of the US Open where again, Djokovic prevailed in five; sublime shot-making again the order of the day.
Wawrinka looks ready to finally turn the tables.
“(I need to) play better, you know. Was two tough matches (against Djokovic), I was playing really, really good,” Wawrinka said after Sunday’s win.
“But it was Novak. We all know how good he is in Grand Slam. I haven’t got there yet.”
Robredo, who ousted French ninth seed Richard Gasquet in the third round, came into Sunday night’s match with a 6-1 head-to-head advantage over his Swiss opponent, but hadn’t recorded consecutive wins against top 10 players since Hamburg in 2002.
In the battle of the backhands, Wawrinka broke early with a crisp single-hander up the line to bring up three break points. He would go on to force the error for 3-1.
“That one-handed backhand is making me flat-out jealous,” Jim Courier said in commentary.
Bringing up three set points having flipped a brilliant defensive shot into a winning position, Wawrinka whipped another backhand crosscourt to seal the opener 6-3 after 30 minutes.
While the Swiss had the good fortune of his first-round opponent Andrey Golubev retiring injured after a set and his third-round opponent Vasek Pospisil handing him a walkover, Robredo was not afraid to go the distance.
The 31-year-old Spaniard had won an astonishing 14 out of the 18 five-set matches in his career, including that epic run at Roland Garros last year where he became the first player in 86 years to come back from two sets to love down in three successive matches at a major on his way to the quarterfinals.
This, though, was Stan’s night. Holding tight to clinch the next two sets in tiebreaks, he booked a second Australian Open quarterfinal berth when back-to-back forehands from Robredo found the net.
“It was a tough battle; Tommy is a tough player to beat. He always tries to make you play one more ball,” Wawrinka said.
“I play really aggressive even when he come back in the second. I came to the net as much as possible and I think my serve was really good today.”
That serve will have to be on song again if he is to stand a chance against Djokovic.
The best of 2014 highlights reel is ready to be filled.