By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Roger Federer  def. Stan Wawrinka  7-5 6-3 1-6 4-6 6-3
- Will face either Rafael Nadal or Grigor Dimitrov in the Final
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Roger Federer battled Stan Wawrinka’s pace and a tight leg to edge his compatriot in five sets for a tilt at his 18th Slam title
Roger Federer  def. Stan Wawrinka  7-5 6-3 1-6 4-6 6-3
In a tournament fast becoming known for the longevity of the last men and women standing, the two Swiss 30-somethings took to the court and set a blistering pace at the start. Stan Wawrinka’s power looked to be the differentiator, with no yards being given until mid-way through the first set – first Roger Federer bringing up three break point chances on Wawrinka’s serve, immediately followed by Wawrinka having two on his fellow countryman’s service game.
The first set was taut, swift but ultimately the 2014 champion blinked first, surrendering the first set on the only break. Similarly it was just one loose game that turned the tide for Federer to notch up a 2-0 lead. An injury timeout saw Wawrinka come back with knee tape, and perhaps in that gap the momentum left Federer who came out a little flatter in the third set, with Wawrinka definitely swinging for the the fences more. He spun through the third set for the loss of just one game to mount the chase.
Things were a bit more nervy on the fourth set, starting with traded breaks before Wawrinka looked to be getting his groove back, levelling the match. A rare injury time-out for Federer in the cooler conditions of the evening led the way for another highly competitive set – just a single break point chance for either man before Federer struck for a 4-2 lead.
Wawrinka really looked at that point like the fire had gone out of him, as Federer did not relinquish the advantage – serving for his spot in the Australian Open final to love.
After the match, he admitted: “In the fifth, I just knew I had to find my energy again, you know. Play with intensity, play more aggressive, take the ball early, believe in myself, serve good, try not to get in too many tough moments early on, which then I did.
“It was an awkward match. Always against Stan, it was always never going to be easy. Especially how the third and fourth set went by, I needed to react really, because he had the upper hand from the baseline.
“I thought it was going to be tough in the fifth. I think he gave me a cheap break in the fifth. After that, I never looked back.”
While people wax lyrical about the return of Federer after a six-month break, Wawrinka put the loss into perspective.
“I don’t know what to say. I mean, I cannot just be happy to win two sets against Roger. I just lost a five-set match in semi-final of Australian Open.
“For sure I’m really sad and disappointed with a loss like that because to be that close to have won a semi-final, it can be only sad. But at the end I know I tried everything on the court. I came from two sets down. I change completely the momentum. I start to be extra aggressive because I had to change few things also physically.
“At the end I had a great battle against Roger. He’s great fighter. He’s always been amazing in Grand Slam, in five-set match. I’m for sure sad to lose a match like that.”
Everybody seemed to be fixated on the prospect of the Federer- Rafael Nadal battle on Sunday, Federer at least chose to cast his gaze on the other player in the mix – Grigor Dimitrov, revealing that he had been able to offer Dimitrov, who is enjoying a resurgence in his career, some advice last year.
He said: “You never want to play a guy with confidence because he believes he can rip trees out, you feel like Superman for a second. Rightfully so, he worked super hard. He probably believes he’s worked harder than anybody right now.
“I think he has a legit shot against Rafa. If he won that, then clearly also against me. I think he’s doing a nice job with his game right now. He’s cleaned it up nicely. He came from a tough place.
“I’ve given him some advice, too, because he came to me last year at some point. He was having all sorts of issues. We were just having a simple conversation. I’m happy he took some things on-8:30board. He seemed to turn it around somehow. I’m really happy for him.
“Now if the match were to come up, I know I have to play a good match because he does present different things. He brings different things to the table because of the way he plays.”
Dimitrov & Nadal are scheduled on Rod Laver Area not before 7:30pm (8:30am GMT).
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