Nobody in his wildest dreams would have thought that Roger Federer would make it to the finals of the 2017 Australian Open. Having prematurely ended his last season due to injury, seeded 17th and not getting any younger, Federer should have at most made it to the fourth round. He would have certainly lost some ranking points but would have been at par with the expectations. But, after his win over Nishikori and Murray’s loss to Zverev, expectations rose.
His match against Stan Wawrinka was equally emphatic. Federer rushed to a 2-0 lead and seemed in control of the match before Wawrinka turned things up for him. At the end of the second set, Wawrinka was in tears and had to get his right knee taped up. But, the champion-hearted Wawrinka came back from a two-set deficit to equalize the scorecard at 2-2. Since the beginning of the third set, he started to strike the ball more freely, using the weight of his thunderous groundstrokes to bully Federer around the court. I was convinced that Federer’s age would count against him if it went to the fifth said, which it did. However, Federer was able to fend off everything Wawrinka threw at him and managed to wrap up the match by a close margin. This is the first time that Federer has beaten three Top 10 players en route to the finals.
Federer is into his 6th Australian Open final and his 28th Grand Slam final. He has been one win away from winning his 18th Grand Slam thrice, Djokovic denying him glory each time. This time there won’t be a Djokovic on the other side, but could be the man who has denied him several more. Rafael Nadal still has to overcome Grigor Dimitrov in order for that miraculous reunion to occur. Yet whatever index you use, I guess Wawrinka posed a better challenge for Nadal than Federer would.
Federer’s advantage – he has two days to prepare for the finals. Whereas, if Nadal’s semi-final match were to go into the fifth set, he might be slightly tired before the finals. But, not to forget the 2009 Australian Open, where Nadal won a marathon semi-final match against Verdasco and went on to beat an in-form Roger Federer in the finals.
- Sampras was seeded 17th when he won his last Grand Slam title at the 2002 US Open (Federer should certainly draw motivation from this)
- Stan has never beaten Federer on a hard court (Federer leads 19-3, all 3 losses on clay)
- Federer has never lost a match at the Australian Open after winning the first two sets
Venus and Serena Williams will meet in a Grand Slam final for the ninth time. While Serena is looking to surpass Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, Venus is looking to win her maiden Australian Open title. This will be their first Grand Slam final against each other since Wimbledon 2009.