Wawrinka fells Berdych to reach first grand slam final

Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:20am EST
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Stanislas Wawrinka will bid to break the 'Big Four' strangle-hold on grand slam silverware after edging Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(3) 7-6(4) in a serving war on Thursday 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 Rod Laver Arena, reaching his first major final where he will meet either Rafa Nadal or compatriot Roger Federer.

With only a single break of serve in the entire match, Wawrinka upped the ante in the decisive tiebreak, sealing the second of three match points with a monster 214 kph (132 mph) serve that whistled into Berdych's body.

"I don't know what to say. I'm speechless. It's amazing," Wawrinka, choking back tears, said in a courtside interview.

"I've working really hard for so many years, trying to improve my game, try to get some big match in big stadium. Now I'm the first final in a grand slam, so I can be only really happy."

The win continued Wawrinka's fairytale run, having sensationally ended Novak Djokovic's three-year reign over Melbourne Park 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.   Continued...

 
Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland hits a return to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic during their men's singles semi-final match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic