It lasted 21 minutes. There were 12 deuces, five break points and seven game points. And it kept the crowd in a state of suspended belief for the duration.
At 1-1 in the fifth set of a superb semifinal encounter between the heavily favored and number one seed Novak Djokovic against the late-blooming 28-year-old Stan Wawrinka, the duo staged a tense, riveting and altogether unbelievable game. It was itself a self-contained novella housed within the weighty tome of this match.
Finally, on the 30th point of the game, Djokovic netted a forehand and just like that it appeared to nearly all in attendance that Wawrinka would go on and record the extraordinary upset. The momentum, it seemed to all, was clearly on his side.
But then something somewhat unexpected happened; instead of appearing downcast and dejected after squandering so many break points Djokovic dominated on his next service game and with that, he reset the rhythm of the match.
So often, after a player loses so many break opportunities, he is more vulnerable on his own serve as he rues the wasted chances. Yet Djokovic played a flawless service game and Wawrinka was the one who seemed out of gas and he gave Djokovic little resistance. Just like that, the glory of outlasting Djokovic in that epic game seemed a distant memory. Wawrinka was promptly broken in his next service game and the match was, for all intents and purposes, over. The final score was 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3. 6-4. To show just how close it was, both players won 165 points. (Wawrinka was also treated for a leg injury in the fourth set that my have contributed to his defeat though he didn’t use it as an excuse afterwards).