Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka admitted that hesitating at a crucial time during a draining five-set Australian Open epic Wednesday cost him a chance of matching his quarter-final run last year.
The 35-year-old Swiss, the tournament winner in 2014, struggled to match the intensity of Marton Fucsovics in the opening two sets but regrouped to stay in the fight.
On a scorching day, the 17th seed had three match points in the fifth set tiebreaker but blew them all, with the Hungarian reeling off five straight points for a famous 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11/9) win in just under four hours.
“It was tough match of course, five sets, four hours,” said Wawrinka, whose tournament preparations were upset when he contracted Covid-19 before Christmas.
“Always a difficult battle against my opponent, we played a few times in the past, always really tough matches and today was the same.
“It was not the best level for me, but again, I was fighting, I had some chance to finish the match, I didn’t finish, I hesitated a little bit when I had the match point and I lost it,” he added.
Fucsovics, ranked 55, last year equalled his best Grand Slam result in Melbourne when he reached the round of 16, only to be sent packing by Roger Federer.
He will now play Canadian 14th seed Milos Raonic, who beat France’s Corentin Moutet over four sets, for a place in the fourth round, where world number one Novak Djokovic potentially awaits.
“Right now I feel like I’m dying, I’m really tired,” said Fucsovics, who was playing his second straight five-setter.
“It was a long match. I knew he was going to come back, he’s a strong player physically and mentally.”