Wawrinka reaches 1st Slam final
MELBOURNE, Australia — Stanislas Wawrinka backed up his upset of four-time champion Novak Djokovic by reaching his first Grand Slam final with a 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) win over Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open semifinals late Wednesday.
Wawrinka ended a 14-match losing streak against Djokovic with a dramatic five-set, four-hour win in the quarterfinals, then followed that with a dominating performance against Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless,” he said. “I didn’t expect to make a final in a Grand Slam — tonight it’s happening.”
The eighth-seeded Wawrinka will meet the winner of late Thursday’s semifinal showdown between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the 33rd installment of their rivalry and the first at a Grand Slam since Nadal knocked Federer out of the Australian Open at the same stage in 2012.
Whoever he plays, Wawrinka will go into the final as an underdog. He has never beaten Nadal in 12 meetings, and has lost all but one of his 14 matches against his countryman, Federer.
Wawrinka has long been in Federer’s shadow as Switzerland’s less-heralded No. 2, but he’s been slowly gaining confidence in his game since narrowly losing a heartbreaking marathon match to Djokovic in Melbourne last year.
In April, he hired a new coach — Magnus Norman, a former Swedish player once ranked as high as No. 2. Since then, he’s risen to a career-high No. 8 in the rankings and reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open.
Li Na, Cibulkova in women’s final
MELBOURNE, Australia — Li Na has advanced to her third Australian Open final and will have to beat Dominika Cibulkova to win her first title at Melbourne Park.
No. 4-seeded Li had a 6-2, 6-4 win over 19-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the first semifinal Wednesday before No. 20-seeded Cibulkova trounced 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2.
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