After he caused a major upset on Tuesday by outlasting the reigning champion and second seed Novak Djokovic, eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka could be weighing his chances of winning the Australian Open title. Knowing that the road ahead would be treacherous, he took the first step as he went into Thursday’s semifinal with the highly talented Czech, Tomas Berdych. It was an engaging four-set duel till the very end, with the last three sets going to the tie-breaks, before Wawrinka edged past Berdych 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a battle of wits, lasting 3 hours 32 minutes. The manner in which the game played out, it could have gone either way but Wawrinka held his nerves, a tad better than the seventh seeded Tomas Berdych. That the match was full of tension and tantalizingly close, can be gauged from the fact that Wawrinka won 143 points as against Berdych’s 142 for the entire match. It was an edge of the seat experience for everyone, who had gathered to watch the great semifinal at the Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night.
The first set, however, did not give any inklings of how events in the rest of the match would unfold, as Wawrinka made judicious use of any small opening that became available in the opener. First he broke the Czech’s serve in the eighth game, when two break opportunities came his way, after Berdych hit a wild smash too long. Then Berdych committed a backhand error in the next game and Wawrinka walked away with the first set in 31 minutes.
Despite the first set loss, the Czech came back strongly in the second set, which lasted for close to an hour. There were no service breaks, as the score was finally locked at 6-6. In the tie-break, which followed, Berdych came up with great returns to blunt Wawrinka’s service. He dominated the tie break to win it 7-1 and level the match 1-1.
In the third set too, the two players kept winning their service games. In the ninth game, however, a 20-shot rally ended with Berdych producing a huge forehand winner, which earned him his first break-point. Berdych, however, couldn’t convert the chance and the set went to another tie-break. For two hours until the third set tie-break, Wawrinka was worried about the great service, which Berdych was repeatedly able to produce with clockwork precision. But a slack came at the crunch time, as Berdych served two double faults in the tie break. Wawrinka won the set to lead 2-1 in the match.
The first game of the fourth set started with Berdych’s serve. The loss in the third set was probably weighing in his mind, as Berdych became too shaky. The game lasted for 16 minutes and went to deuce for six times. Luckily for Berdych, he held out in the end. The entire fourth set lasted for an hour and went to the tie-break in the end. It is in moments like these that true fighters hold their nerves and exercise utmost self-control. With both Wawrinka and Berdych becoming error-prone, the outcome depended on who made lesser number of mistakes. Berdych served a double fault just as he had done in the third set. On match point, Wawrinka also double-faulted but he appeared to be limiting his errors. On Wawrinka’s second match point, Berdych erred, when he hit a backhand volley too long, allowing the Swiss eighth seed to reach his first-ever Grand Slam Final. On Sunday, Wawrinka will come face-to-face with; either top-seed and world no. 1 Rafeal Nadal or his famous and more celebrated compatriot Roger Federer.