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Australian Open Men's Day 11

By Chris Pike
23 January 2014 11:20PM EST

STANISLAS Wawrinka's late career emergence into a Grand Slam threat now sees the Swiss No. 2 into the Australian Open final after a tight four-set semi-final win over Tomas Berdych on Thursday night.

Up until the start of 2013, Wawrinka not only lived in the Swiss shadow of the legend Roger Federer but also couldn’t find a way to go from a player with plenty of natural talent, and a wonderful one-handed backhand, to being someone who could go deep in Grand Slam tournaments.

However, coming into 2013 he started working with a new coach, former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, and that saw him almost beat Novak Djokovic at last year's Australian Open before heartbreakingly losing 12-10 in the fifth set.

He then suffered heartbreak in the first Grand Slam semi-final of his career to Djokovic also in five sets at the US Open, but he had taken great strides throughout 2013 and finished the year at No. 8 in the world.

And now the 28-year-old has earned his way into the first Grand Slam final of his career after his gutsy 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) semi-final win over world No. 7 Czech Berdych on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night.

Both men played at a high level with their serves providing only five break points for the entire match, but it was two double-faults from Berdych in the third set tie-break that turned the match in Wawrinka's favour and he went on to win in four sets, and in three hours and 31 minutes.

It caps off a fortnight to remember for Wawrinka who has beaten Tommy Robredo, Djokovic and now Berdych along the way to the final where he awaits the winner of Friday night's semi-final between world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and his good friend, and compatriot Federer.

Despite the fact that a spot in his first ever Grand Slam final was on the line, and with his opponent having previously made a Wimbledon final, there was no signs of nerves from Wawrinka in the opening set.

He played near faultless tennis on his own serve losing only eight points for the entire set while breaking Berdych's serve with what was the only break point opportunity for either player.

Wawrinka also hit 12 winners to 12 unforced errors from Berdych and the result was him winning the set 6-3 in just 31 minutes.

Things tightened up hugely in the second set, though, with both men's service games dominant.

Neither conceded even a break point opportunity for the entire set while hitting nine aces apiece while Berdych nailed 20 winners to 18 from Wawrinka in the highest quality of tennis played so far this year's Australian Open.

It went to the tie-break and there, Berdych dominated winning it seven points to one to level the match at a set apiece.

Again in the third set, there was not a single break point for either player so it went into a tie-break and in that tie-break, Berdych served two crucial double faults at the worst possible moments with Wawrinka benefitting to win it seven points to three and go up two sets to one.

Once again, the fourth set followed the same script with no breaks of serve even though Wawrinka did fall 0-30 twice on his own serve.

Another double-fault in the tie-break helped to hand the advantage to Wawrinka and even though he served a double-fault of his own on his first match point, he won the second and won through to the final on Sunday night.

It was an incredibly tight match throughout the night with precious little separating the pair of 28-year-olds still searching for a first Grand Slam title.

In the finish, Wawrinka won a total of 143 points to 142 from Berdych and it was an incredibly high quality affair.

Berdych hit 60 winners to 49 unforced errors while Warwinka had 57 winners to 49 unforced errors.

Berdych hit 21 aces and Wawrinka 18 but Berdych's seven double-faults proved crucial.

The only break of serve went Wawrinka's way in the first set to give him the edge with both players' serve outstanding all night long.

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