Roger Federer’s worldwide fans have suffered the disappointment of seeing their hero lose in three Grand Slam finals since the Swiss maestro won the Wimbledon crown in 2012. In five years, the 17-time champion has been denied his 18th Grand Slam crown by none other than Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, who defeated him at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015 and yet again in 2015 US Open. On Thursday, just when it looked easy for the former world no.1, his opponent and compatriot Stan Wawrinka made life difficult for him. Wawrinka made a huge comeback after trailing by 2 sets. At times, Federer’s chances of making it to the final at Melbourne looked like slipping away from him until the Swiss maestro produced his vintage fighting skills in the final set. Now the entire global tennis fraternity is waiting for a dream climax at Melbourne, where Federer could play against old nemesis Rafael Nadal of Spain. This is despite the reality that Nadal is yet to reach the final. The Spaniard plays against the feisty Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Friday before the miraculous Federer-Nadal reunion could see the light of the day.
Roger Federer began clinically against countryman Stan Wawrinka in first men’s singles semifinal at Melbourne on Thursday. The big Swiss came on to the court with an earlier 18-3 head-to-head advantage over Wawrinka but knew very well that historical figures hold little value on match day. The first set went on serves for long and both players had their chances. Federer kept drawing Wawrinka repeatedly to the net knowing his compatriot’s weakness in that area. On Wawrinka’s service at 6-5 in the first set, Federer got the break, when Wawrinka sent an easy forehand into the net. As Federer continued his assault in the second set, Wawrinka grew increasingly unhappy and smashed his racket after being broken for 2-4. Federer kept his game on upper keel and took the second set as well. Wawrinka became so distraught that he left the court and returned with a strapping on his right knee.
The Melbourne crowd was rooting for Federer after he took the 2-0 lead on sets. Just when everyone waited for Federer to finish off everything quickly, Wawrinka made a strong comeback in the third set. With aggression coming back in his game, Wawrinka pushed Federer hard, passing him on either flanks. Federer’s backhand began to lose its venom as Wawrinka led him into making several unforced errors. After Wawrinka took the third set at 6-1, he broke Federer at the start of the fourth. However, Federer soon found a break of his own and found his range of shots yet again. At 4-4 on Federer’s service, Wawrinka produced a couple of brilliant forehands and found the much-needed break. Wawrinka went on to hold and the set-scores were level at 2-2. At this point, Federer left the court for an injury break.
Then the Swiss master came close to be broken in the third game of the decider. Wawrinka continued with his red-hot form and held another break point in the fifth game. But Federer saved that too and that’s when the match went out of Wawrinka’s grasp. With Federer back into his own, the frustrated Wawrinka suddenly became error-prone and a double-fault on break point allowed Federer to go ahead 4-2. A couple of games later, the 3-hour 5-minute match ended with Federer’s 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
While Federer awaits for the winner of the other semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov, the world tennis community is certain of the Spaniard coming through and playing against the Super Swiss in Sunday’s final. In keeping with the women’s singles final between Serena and Venus Williams, there are heavy odds in favor of the Federer-Nadal final on Sunday. That will be another glorious instance of years having been rolled back.