By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Stan Wawrinka  v Roger Federer 
- Head to head – Federer leads 18-3
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Stan Wawrinka will need to overturn a formidable head to head to get a hard court win over Roger Federer as they bid for a spot in the final.
In a draw blown wide open by first the absence of defending champion Novak Djokovic, swiftly followed by top seed and World No. 1 Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka were the main names in the frame to look to benefit. For Federer, he avoided a quarter-final with Murray and handily did away with the old school serve and volley tactics of Mischa Zverev that had done for Murray, as he sailed into the semi-finals.
Meanwhile Wawrinka had found himself tested right from the start of the tournament, taken to five sets in his opener, and then bizarrely having a bit of a Robert De Niro ‘Taxi Driver’ moment in a change of ends argument with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a whole lot of ‘You looking at me?’ going on.
No-one could have predicted that after six months off, Federer’s comeback would seem this charmed. Sure – he dropped a set to qualifier Jurgen Melzer, and was taken to five sets by Kei Nishikori. But all in all, he has looked back to his imperious best. Wawrinka is maybe not so easy to read. We know he brings his best to the court when the chips are down, and he has pulled off some very improbable wins in his career under the tutelage of Magnus Norman.
But to get the win he will have to beat Federer for the first time on a hard court. All his wins thus far have come on clay where perhaps he has a little more time on the ball. Federer has even pointed out that perhaps the quicker courts have helped those players with a little more longevity in their legs adapt to conditions they have been used to over the years.
Either way, Wawrinka will need to be at his aggressive best as two of the best single-handed backhands do battle. It is probably fair to say that Wawrinka’s mental struggles have lessened but not been completely eradicated, and he will need to play the sort of tennis that took him to three Grand Slams to get pasty the rejuvenated Federer.
There have been no real discernable weaknesses in the 17-time Grand Slam champions game on his return. He may have been just a little rusty in his opener, but he has played himself well into form. However it remains to be seen if that five setter against Nishikori begins to take its toll.
Prediction: Wawrinka in five sets.
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