Stanislas Wawrinka scored his biggest career win over Novak Djokovic this week. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Heading into their semi-final, Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych share an unwanted tennis tag – the best players never to have won a Grand Slam. Both are fabulous ball-strikers but have been starved of success in majors by the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic-Murray generation which has 38 slams between them. With the ‘Djoker’ and Murray already eliminated, this could be a rare window.
Berdych has come close, going down to world number one Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the 2010 Wimbledon final. He’s also been to the semis at the US and French Opens. For the past three years, the Czech has reached the quarters at Melbourne Park, only to lose to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in 2011 and 2013, and Nadal in 2012.
A laidback character who loves an ale, Wawrinka will overtake Federer as Switzerland’s number one unless the ‘Fed’ reaches the final. Having lived in the shadow of Federer for close on a decade, Wawrinka is ready to take-over the mantle. He showed that with a five-set upset over Djokovic. Two more wins in Melbourne would provide a maiden major confirming ‘Stan the man’ is here.
In getting to the last four, Wawrinka and Berdych have similar stats. Berdych has played 140 games in 16 sets and Wawrinka 142 games in 14 sets. However, Wawrinka has had a walkover and an early retirement, which reinforces Berdych’s relatively comfortable passage to the semis. Before his 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over David Ferrer, the Czech hadn’t dropped a set against his four other opponents. Wawrinka’s matches have been much tighter, including the 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7 quarter-final success over Djokovic and a four-set win against Alejandro Falla in the second round.
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