Roger Federer produced a display of the highest order to reach the Australian Open final, defeating fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka at the Rod Laver Arena on Thursday. The Swiss emerged victorious in a classic five-set encounter, score reading 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3.
One needs to applaud Wawrinka for his brave effort, taking Federer to the deciding set after going two sets down. There was an element of powerful Wawrinka, which stunned Federer in the third and fourth set, but the four-time Australian champion held his calm and composure to win the match, lasting three hours and four minutes.
Federer brought his A game in the opening set, and the crowd was thrilled with his amazing display. The Swiss was equally good with his baseline game and his returns. Wawrinka, on the other hand, was also playing some wonderful tennis, and the match lived up to its expectations.
The two were involved in some incredible rallies. At times it was Federer, who hit a winner while Wawrinka also followed a similar pattern. However, it was the brilliance of Federer, which helped him win the first set 7-5.
One had expected a similar close encounter in the second set too, but Federer carried on his form from the first set to dominate the second. Federer was in cruise control, taking it 6-3. Wawrinka was visibly not looking comfortable as he was limping in the latter stages of the second set.
One knew something was wrong with Wawrinka, who was just a set away from being knocked out of the Australian Open, had tears in his eyes as he took a medical time out after the completion of the second set.
Wawrinka, with a tape on his knee, looked like a completely different player in the third set. He was letting it loose against Federer, who was not able to understand as to what hit him all of a sudden in the third set. Half-fit Wawrinka was playing some powerful tennis as his monstrous baseline game was doing the trick for him.
In a sudden turn of momentum, Wawrinka clinched the third set, making the contest interesting. Though Wawrinka did hit some unforced errors in the third set, his overall play was too strong for Federer to handle.
After that third set win, Wawrinka got his mojo back. He was taking the game to Federer, and a close fourth set loomed large. It was close game from the start in in the fourth set, with both players keen to perform to their optimum. It was an even contest in the third with both players enjoying a good service game, which was levelled at 3-3.
Wawrinka broke Federer in the ninth game of the set and won the next to force Federer into the deciding set. Very few might have seen this comeback from Wawrinka coming especially after the player took a medical timeout ahead of the third set.
Federer also took a medical timeout after losing two straight games. The Swiss ace came back with a bang, taking a 1-0 lead, and then made it 2-1. By the look of things in the first four games of the final set, it was difficult to choose a winner as they were both playing some quality tennis with Wawrinka making it 2-2.
Both the players might not have been fully fit considering they took a medical time out, but there was nothing to show that they had some problems with their display, which was top class. Their game from the baseline were quite stunning, and Wawrinka with his power was posing danger to Federer, who found his way to inch closer to the Australian Open final after breaking Wawrinka's serve.
Federer looked strong in the closing moments of the match with his serves as well as his perfect returning and volleys, troubling Wawrika, who eventually lost the set 3-6 to allow the former world number one entry into yet another grand slam final.