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Thursday, 26 January 2017 13:07 PM GMT
Australian Open Night 11: Federer passes Wawrinka test to reach final rounds up the action from Night 11 at the Australian Open. READ MORE

"Ladies and gentlemen you are in the presence of greatness".

That was the statement from the on-court announcer inside Rod Laver Arena on Thursday as Roger Federer, a man who missed the second half of last year through injury, reached the 28th Grand Slam final of his career.

The 35-year-old, who won the last of his 17 Grand Slams at Wimbledon in 2012, beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 in just over three hours of excitement, tension and some of the purest ball-striking imaginable to reach his sixth final in Melbourne. 

“It feels amazing,” Federer said. “I never ever would have thought in my wildest dreams I would come this far, but here I am.”

It is a remarkable comeback by Federer, who didn’t play competitively for six months in 2016 as he allowed his ailing knee to heal. After a couple of scrappy performances in the first two rounds, he has been a revelation since and if he wins, he would be the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Ken Rosewall won here in 1972.

He’ll play either 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal or Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who play each other on Friday night.

Federer and Wawrinka had played 21 times before, with Federer holding an 18-3 advantage. It was a statistic that had Wawrinka’s coach Magnus Norman suggesting there would be a psychological edge for the older man and so it seemed as on a cool Melbourne night, Federer pinched a tight first set and then grabbed the second.

At that stage, Wawrinka needed a medical timeout, returning with a small strapping below his right knee, an injury Norman had said was manageable.

And if anything, it relaxed the 31-year-old, who began playing the kind of tennis that has led him to three Grand Slam titles in the past three years.

An early break in the third set put Wawrinka on track and after racing through it, he broke once more in the fourth to level the match, at which point Federer left the court for a medical timeout of his own, which he later said was for a leg issue he has been managing throughout the tournament.

Wawrinka had a break point at 1-1 but could not control a backhand pass off a Federer drop shot and then at 2-2, he missed a routine backhand cross-court. That was to prove crucial as he handed Federer a break for 4-2 and the 35-year-old served out three games later to secure a famous victory.

“It all went so quickly at the end I had to check the score and see it wasn’t still 5-3, 40-0 and it was real,” he said.

It was real alright.

Quote of the night

"I'm probably Rafa's No.1 fan - it would be unreal" - Federer on a potential final showdown with his old foe Rafael Nadal...

Reaction of the night

We were all Mirka Federer during the deciding set...

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