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Wawrinka into Open final


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For the first time, Switzerland has a man other than Roger Federer in a grand slam tennis final.

Now Stanislas Wawrinka, who edged out Czech Tomas Berdych in a tense Australian Open semi-final on Thursday night, waits to find out whether Federer will join him.

The 17-time major champion plays world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the second semi-final on Friday night.

Eighth seed Wawrinka booked his place by beating seventh seed Berdych 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) in a serve-dominated clash.

Wawrinka had ousted four-time champion Novak Djokovic in a four-hour five-setter two nights earlier.

That match was full of long rallies and spectacular shot-making.

But Wawrinka’s battle with Berdych was mostly made up of short points and all about who could blunt their opponent’s serve.

Berdych was the only player to lose his serve for the night, just once.

Wawrinka was down just one break point.

But the few mistakes Berdych did make on serve cost him dearly.

Down a break point for the first time, in the eighth game, the Czech made a major blunder, mis-hitting what should have been a straight-forward smash, to give Wawrinka a 5-3 lead.

The Swiss served out the set.

Berdych wasn’t down another break point until the seventh game of the second set.

He responded strongly to start a remarkable run of 23 winning points on his serve.

That included the second-set tiebreak, which Berdych dominated, playing his best tennis of the match, with power hitting from the baseline and some timely moves to the net to pile the pressure on Wawrinka.

The momentum continued Berdych’s way for much of the third set, in which the Czech lost just four points on serve before the tiebreak.

But the booming serve that had been such a weapon then misfired badly.

Berdych double-faulted to hand Wawrinka a 4-2 lead, then again to give him the set.

The Czech threw in another crucial double-fault in the fourth-set tiebreaker and while Wawrinka served one himself on his first match point, he clinched it on his second.

Wawrinka’s win could give Federer a morale boost, after the 32-year-old admitted he was fist-pumping and high-fiving when his countryman beat Djokovic.

Wawrinka said he would watch Federer’s semi-final with similar interest and it would be amazing to play him on Sunday night.

He said Federer had texted him on Wednesday night to say how pleased he was to have two Swiss men in the semis.

“I told him ‘for you it’s normal, for me it’s not normal,'” Wawrinka said.

“I’m going to watch the match tomorrow in front of my TV, maybe with some popcorn.”

Wawrinka said he never expected to reach a grand slam decider.

“Tonight it’s happening so I’m just really happy,” he said.

For Berdych, his 15-month title drought continues.

And another chance for the 28-year-old to break his grand slam duck – the closest he came was losing the 2010 Wimbledon final to Rafael Nadal – has slipped by.

The Czech said he carried out his game plan nearly perfectly, but tiebreaks were a weakness.

“I’m starting to get quite annoyed with losing matches in tiebreaks,” he said.

“I’m not pretty good in that. I can give you many examples of losing matches in tiebreaks. I need to improve that, definitely.”

He said Wawrinka was the biggest improver in men’s tennis over the past year.

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