Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka edged Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) Thursday night at the Australian Open to reach his first Grand Slam final, in which he will have the daunting task of trying to defeat either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
Showing no signs of fatigue after spending four hours on court in his five-set quarterfinal upset Tuesday of world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, Wawrinka scored his fourth consecutive victory over the seventh-ranked Czech.
The Swiss world No. 8 was able to save wear-and-tear on his body early in the tournament because one opponent, Kazakhstan's Andrey Golubev, retired mid-match with a leg injury and another, Canada's Vasek Pospisil, withdrew prior to their scheduled match due to a back problem.
Both players dominated their service games throughout Thursday's contest, with Wawrinka earning the only service break of the match in the seventh game of the first set. Berdych had only one break point on the Swiss' serve over four sets and was unable to convert it.
The Czech struck 21 aces to Wawrinka's 18, but two costly double faults - the second on set point - were his undoing in the third-set tiebreaker.
Berdych gifted another point to Wawrinka when he tossed in his seventh and final double fault during the fourth-set tiebreaker.
The Swiss calmly took advantage, finishing off the match in just over three and a half hours with a first serve that Berdych sent well over the baseline.
"I feel great. It's amazing, you know. I didn't expect to make a final in Grand Slam in my career. Tonight it's happening, so I'm really happy," Wawrinka said in the post-match press conference.
"Already last year I had the feeling that I was playing better, but I was dealing better the pressure also. I'm more mature. I'm 28 now. I'm on the tour since 10 years. Now I feel that it's my time to play my best tennis."
Looking ahead to Sunday's final, in which Wawrinka will face either Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, or Nadal, a 13-time winner of tennis' biggest events, he said he would rather face his countryman in what would be the first all-Swiss major final in tennis history.
"For sure to play a Swiss final will be amazing, first for Switzerland, for the country. He is the best player ever. For me it's my first final. To imagine to play against Roger would be amazing.
In women's semifinal action earlier Thursday, China's Li Na advanced to her third Australian Open final in the past four years with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Canadian teen sensation Eugenie Bouchard.
The 31-year-old Li, winner of the 2011 French Open, lost to Belgium's Kim Clijsters in the 2011 final and was defeated by Belarusian Victoria Azarenka last year.
Li will be the favorite in Saturday's final against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova, who continued her surprising run in Melbourne by upsetting fifth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2 Thursday to advance to her first-ever Slam final. EFE