Stanislas Wawrinka will bid to break the ‘Big Four’ strangle-hold on Grand Slam silverware after edging Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(3) 7-6(4) in a serving war on Thursday to reach the Australian Open final.
In a slow-burning contest that occasionally roared to life, the Swiss eighth seed stepped up on big points on a tense night at Rod Laver Arena, reaching his first major final where he will meet either Rafa Nadal or compatriot Roger Federer.
With only a single break of serve in the entire match, Wawrinka upped the ante in the decisive tiebreak, earning three match points when his opponent pushed a serve long.
Wawrinka closed out the match with a monster 214 kph (132 mph) serve that whistled into Berdych’s body, sparking a huge roar from the centre court crowd.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless. It’s amazing,” Wawrinka said in a courtside interview after throwing a triumphant stare at his player’s box and pointing to his head.
“I’m working every day to try to win matches, I didn’t expect to make a final in a grand slam so I’m just really happy.
“I played really aggressive. It’s important against him to take the advantage as soon as you can to take the rallies.”
The win continued Wawrinka’s fairytale run at Melbourne Park, having sensationally ended Novak Djokovic’s three-year reign in a five-set quarter-final classic.
Wawrinka faced Berdych with queries over his fitness but was switched on from the start, and struck the first blow by breaking the seventh seed in the eighth game.
His first serve deserting him briefly, the Czech notched a string of unforced errors to proffer a break point, then pushed an overhead smash wide of the tramlines to hand the Swiss the initiative.
Door ajar, Wawrinka barged through with a huge serve to clinch a set point then angled a devilish second serve into Berdych’s body to take the early lead.
With neither player giving any quarter on serve, the next set went to a tiebreak, where Berdych, having been largely outplayed in the rallies, played brilliantly.
Crunching a succession of huge baseline winners, Berdych raised five set points in a flash.
Flummoxed, Wawrinka found himself bunting a second serve into the net on the first of them and walked back to his chair with his lead wiped out in a few dizzying minutes.
Having brushed off bigger setbacks against Djokovic, Wawrinka returned to the court to tear through a service game, yelling “Allez!” after painting the line with a …continued »