Australian Open 2017: Roger Federer edges past Stan Wawrinka to enter final
Federer will face the winner of the Rafael Nadal - Grigor Dimitrov semi-final; it is Federer's sixth final here.
17th seed Roger Federer booked his place in the final of the 2017 Australian Open with an enthralling 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the fourth seed Stan Wawrinka at the Melbourne Park on Thursday. This is the sixth final for the four-time champion at this venue.
This is Federer's first official tournament since coming back from a six-month hiatus due to a knee surgery and its subsequent rehabilitation.
The former World No. 1 will meet the winner of the second semi-final between the ninth seed Rafael Nadal and 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Federer in control in initial stages
The four-time Australian Open winner had his first chance to break in the fourth game which he couldn’t convert due to an error off his backhand.
Federer never backed off from making forays into the net and the set was at par till 5-5. It was in the eleventh game that Wawrinka was presented with a break point chance but it was erased immediately as the three-time Major champion’s forehand found the net.
It was the 17th seed's turn to have a break point on the Wawrinka serve in the very next game. Unlike his compatriot, the former World No. 1 made no mistake. Under pressure, Wawrinka once again found the net as his barrier and Federer wrapped up the opener, 7-5 as the Rod Laver Arena erupted in joy.
The two players remained on serve till 2-2 in the second set. Wawrinka unraveled in the very next game which looked to have put paid to any hope of a comeback from the 31-year-old. He failed to control a baseline shot from the forecourt that gifted his highly-accomplished opponent two break points. Stan fumbled with his backhand volley to concede a pivotal break and trail behind, 2-3.
That was all the 17-time Grand Slam champion needed to have a firm grip on the match. Federer served impeccably for the rest of the set and sauntered to a two-set lead by grabbing the second, 6-3.
Wawrinka wakes up
Federer finally blinked in the fourth game of the third set. Tentative play from the Swiss maestro gave his younger compatriot a new lease of life. A fired-up Wawrinka broke Federer for the first time in the match with a blazing backhand winner.
It was a pretty different avatar across the net from Federer, who refused to miss. Wawrinka kept up his attacking approach as the 17th seed looked more and more unsure of his strategy. The reigning US Open champion made in-roads into Federer’s serve once again and comfortably served out the 6-1 set.
Wawrinka carried on the momentum and made a sizzling start to the fourth set. With Federer having gone off the boil, the fourth seed took control of the proceedings quickly and went up, 1-0.
Put on the backfoot, Roger finally rediscovered his firepower. He started moving Wawrinka around the court with his angular inside-out forehands to eke out the error and Stan duly obliged.
Federer turned on the heat in the eighth game and made it deuce but any breakthrough was denied and the set was evenly poised at 4-4.
Wawrinka then knived a brilliant crosscourt forehand return in the next game to collect three break points. With a magnificent forehand, he passed Federer at the net and surged to a 5-4 lead to have a clear upper hand in the fourth set.
Brimming with confidence, the fourth seed produced his best serves and take the match to the distance.
Federer averts danger to make his mark
It was the 2014 champion who had his first chance to break in the third game of the decider. Federer kept on pushing Wawrinka on to the forehand wing and saved himself from the impending doom when Wawrinka botched a volley.
The three-time Major winner didn’t relent and earned another break point at 2-2 only to see a backhand miss scuppering his chances.
The blip from Wawrinka came while serving at 2-3 and Federer wasted no time in making his mark. The maestro broke and consolidated to soar to 5-2 before serving out for the win.