- Australian Open
Wonderful Wawrinka makes first ever major final
Stanislas Wawrinka booked a spot in what will be his maiden grand slam final after an extremely hard fought 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(3) 7-6(4) semi-final win over Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open.
In an incredibly tense encounter at Melbourne Park, Wawrinka won two out of three tie-breaks to reach his first major final in 36 attempts and become only the second Swiss man to do so - the only other being his potential opponent, Roger Federer.
Unlike the England cricket team for much of their current tour Down Under, Wawrinka won the toss and opted to serve first.
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Nothing could separate the two in the opening seven games as each routinely held their serve, despite a hairy moment on deuce for Wawrinka in the third.
However, the Swiss finally found a breakthrough in the eighth game after being gifted two break points. Berdych nervously smashed into the net and Wawrinka was left to serve for the set, which he wrapped up with ease to end the first exchange in 31 minutes.
Aces continued for Berdych as he quickly leapt into a 2-1 lead in the second, but Wawrinka responded under pressure to fend off break point in the fourth game. Two more tight games followed before Wawrinka began to exert pressure of his own; Berdych hit back with another big serve and wrapped up the seventh game to edge ahead once more.
The pair continued to trade blows as neither gave an inch and, fittingly, the second set was decided on a tie-break. Unlike the two sets prior, this was much a one-sided affair as a host of Wawrinka errors gifted Berdych six chances to level up. He only needed one as his opponent returned weakly into the net.
While Wawrinka took little over half an hour to win the opening set, Berdych took half that to hold the first game of the fourth. After six deuces and 16 minutes, he moved ahead only for 'Stan the Man' to level up in what seemed like 16 seconds. Untroubled by his extended efforts in his previous service game, Berdych coasted through to lead again.
It proved a similar story for the rest of the set as the pair once more failed to make an impact on each other's service games. Berdych continued to dominate with his serve but another supreme forehand from Wawrinka helped tick things over.
A cheeky inclination to the umpire that he was wrong to stop a point mid-serve did not help Wawrinka's cause, but it did not matter as he took the fourth into another tie breaker - the third of the match.
Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist, suffered a rare double fault before Wawrinka sent down a thunderous ace to move within two points of the match. From there, there was no looking back as he calmly closed out to seal a place in the final against Federer or Nadal.
Elsewhere, Li Na advanced to her third Australian Open final and will have to beat Dominika Cibulkova to win her first title at Melbourne Park.