Australian Open: Stanislas Wawrinka beats Tomas Berdych, reaches maiden Grand Slam final
Stanislas Wawrinka, who won the semi-final 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), will meet the winner of Friday's semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the 33rd installment of their rivalry and the first at a Grand Slam since Nadal beat Federer in the Australian Open semifinals in 2012.
Stanislas Wawrinka backed up his upset of four-time champion Novak Djokovic by reaching his first Grand Slam final with a 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) win over Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday. (Match highlights)
Wawrinka ended a 14-match losing streak against Djokovic with a dramatic five-set win in the quarterfinals, then followed that with a dominating performance against Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist. (Read: Stanimal! Switzerland's working-class tennis hero)
"I don't know what to say. I'm speechless," he said. "I didn't expect to make a final in a Grand Slam - tonight it's happening."
Wawrinka will meet the winner of Friday's semifinal showdown between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the 33rd installment of their rivalry and the first at a Grand Slam since Nadal knocked Federer out of the Australian Open at the same stage in 2012.
Whoever he plays, Wawrinka will go into the final as an underdog. He has never won against Nadal in 12 meetings, and he has lost all but one of his 14 matches against his countryman, Federer.
Wawrinka has long been in Federer's shadow as Switzerland's less-heralded No. 2, but he's been slowly gaining confidence in his game since narrowly losing a heartbreaking marathon match to Djokovic in Melbourne last year.
In April, he hired a new coach - Magnus Norman, a former Swedish player once ranked as high as No. 2. Since then, he's risen to a career-high No. 8 in the rankings and reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open.
Now he's taken the next step into the final of a major, where he could meet his good friend and sometimes doubles partner, Federer.
Federer, who has reached his 11th consecutive semifinal at the Australian Open, said he'd love to see an all-Swiss final at Melbourne Park.
"I'm worried about my match clearly, but I'll definitely watch his first," Federer said after his quarterfinal win over Andy Murray on Wednesday night. "Hopefully he can make it."
Wawrinka jumped out to the early lead against Berdych, getting the only break of the match when the Czech player, looking tentative at the start, made several misses on his forehand before driving an easy overhead long.
With neither player giving anything on their service games after that, Berdych was the first to crack in the crucial tiebreakers. He double-faulted twice in the third-set tiebreaker, including on set point, and then again in the fourth-set breaker.
Little separated the two players in the match - Wawrinka won total 143 points and Berdych 142. The Swiss player served a bit more consistently, though, facing only one break point in the match.