Eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka enjoyed the best day of his tennis life at the Australian Open this Thursday as he reached the debut Grand Slam final by prevailing over Tomas Berdych in four sets. The Rod Laver Arena audience witnessed a high-quality, if not spectacular tennis performance in which break point chances were few and far between.
The first upset of the opening set came in the eighth game with the Swiss efficiently converting on the vital break point to get his nose in front – he rose to the occasion in the subsequent game to put himself one nil ahead. Stan then wasted the single opportunity to steal the opponent’s serve in the second set and a tie-break inevitably followed – the first of the three this evening. The sixth-seeded Czech did not put a foot wrong in the thirteenth game and succeeded to level the terms in a dominant fashion. Berdych produced his solitary break point of the match late in the third set, yet Wawrinka held his nerves and the athletes faced off in another breaker – the Czech’s serving let him down this time as he double-faulted on two occasions and allowed the rival to reestablish the advantage.
The Birdman had to endure some more shaky moments in the early stages of the set four, but he ultimately weathered the storm after smashing several aces. The contestants held with relative ease from then on to set the stage for another dramatic finish of the set. The Swiss number two made his entrance by snatching an early mini-break and stretched away to 4-1 after Berdych’s double fault. The latter pegged one back immediately, but his rival stepped up and blasted and ace down-the-middle after the change of courts. Stan had a triple match point in his hands a few moments later and while he double-faulted on the first one, he put away a service winner next to grab his long-awaited Grand Slam final ticket with a historic 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) victory.
The players shared 39 aces between them over the course of a closely-fought three hours and thirty-one minutes long encounter with the highest-ranked Czech scoring 21 of them. Both were equally efficient in winning first and second serve rallies (82% and 57%), whilst Wawrinka clinched one point more in total than his today’s opponent. He also extended the head-to-head lead to 9-5 and set up a potential all-Swiss title clash as Roger Federer meets Rafael Nadal in the second semi-final tomorrow.
“Already last year I had the feeling that I was playing better, but I was dealing better with the pressure also,” said Wawrinka. “I’m more mature. I’m 28 now. I’ve been on the tour for 10 years. Now I feel that it’s my time to play my best tennis. I’m enjoying more what I’m doing, when I’m winning, and also maybe I know more how to deal with all the pressure around.”