Stanislas Wawrinka is to bid to break the “Big Four” stranglehold on Grand Slam silverware after edging Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) in a serving war yesterday 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 the Rod Laver Arena, reaching his first major final where he will meet either Rafael 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 214kph serve that whistled into Berdych’s body, sparking a huge roar from the center 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,” he said.
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.
However, the Swiss composed himself in the final tiebreak.
A loose forehand that sailed long gave Wawrinka three set points and the unflappable Swiss coolly took the second of them to set a date for the biggest match of his life.