Australian Open: Stanislas Wawrinka beats Tomas Berdych to reach final
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 23/01/14 6:00pm
Stanislas Wawrinka reached his first Grand Slam singles final after overcoming Tomas Berdych in four sets at the Australian Open.
His 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/4) victory in three hours and 31 minutes sets up the possibility of a first all-Swiss major final against Roger Federer, who takes on world No 1 Rafael Nadal in Melbourne on Friday.
The 28-year-old Wawrinka, who won the Chennai Open in the opening week of the season, also remains unbeaten in 2014 after recording his fourth successive victory against his Czech opponent in a slow-burning contest.
Wawrinka took the only break point of the opening set in the eighth game before comfortably serving it out.
The Swiss eighth seed, who sent the tennis world into a spin when he dumped the three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in a gripping five-set quarter-final, hit 12 winners compared to Berdych's six.
The second set went all the way after a change of tactics from Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist four years ago, forced his opponent into an error-strewn tie-breaker.
Stat of the match
Wawrinka hit 18 aces among his haul of 57 winners and won 82 per cent of his first-serve points.
A fabulous crosscourt backhand winner helped him move into a 5-1 lead in the breaker before winning the next two points to seal the set.
Berdych, whose confidence was also sky-high after overcoming Spanish baseliner David Ferrer in the last eight, converted his first break point in the ninth game of the third set thanks to an immaculate forehand winner, but Wawrinka dug deep to hold on.
Both players were producing some high-quality baseline action on a jam-packed Rod Laver Arena as the match entered another tie-break.
A double-fault from seventh-ranked Berdych gave Wawrinka a crucial mini-break and then a second double handed him the tie-break 7-3, and a two-sets-to-one lead.
"I'm so happy to be here right now, to win that match, to make that first grand slam final. I didn't expect to make a grand slam final and tonight it's happening."
Wawrinka piled the pressure on 6ft 5in Berdych on his opening service game of the fourth set, but despite six deuces and over 12 minutes of action, the Czech star held.
The right-handed Swiss No 2, who has made a semi-final in every major tournament, stood firm on his own delivery to take the contest into a third successive tie-breaker.
And after racing into a 6-3 lead, helped in large by some profligacy off the Berdych racquet and an 18th ace of the match, he double-faulted on his first match point, but then nailed a monster 132 mph first serve to reach Sunday's showpiece.
"It's amazing," said Wawrinka, who reached his first slam final at the 36th attempt. "I'm so happy to be here right now, to win that match, to make that first grand slam final. I didn't expect to make a grand slam final and tonight it's happening.
"Roger (Federer) is the best player ever. He texted me last night saying how happy he was that two Swiss guys were in the semis. I told him, 'For you it's normal. For me, it's not normal'.
"I'm going to watch the match tomorrow on my TV maybe with some popcorn."