Melbourne (AFP) - Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka reached his first Grand Slam final after edging out Tomas Berdych in four tight sets at the Australian Open on Thursday.
The eighth seed beat the Czech 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) in three hours 31 minutes and will play either Rafael Nadal or fellow Swiss Roger Federer in Sunday's final.
Wawrinka, who upset three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, will supplant his close friend Federer as the Swiss number one unless the 17-time Grand Slam champion wins the title. Federer has held the top Swiss ranking since 2001.
"I feel great. It's amazing. I didn't expect to make a final in a Grand Slam in my career. Tonight it's happening, so I'm really happy," Wawrinka said.
"I've been working really hard for many years, trying to improve my game, trying to get some big matches in a big stadium. Now I'm in the first final in a Grand Slam, so I can be only really happy."
Wawrinka said he was in the best form of his career and was better at handling the pressure.
"Last year I had the feeling that I was playing better, but I was also dealing better with the pressure," he said.
"I'm more mature. I'm 28 now. I've been on the tour for 10 years. Now I feel that it's my time to play my best tennis.
"I'm enjoying more what I'm doing, when I'm winning, and also maybe I know more how to deal with all the pressure."
Wawrinka didn't lose serve and only had one break point against him as big-serving Berdych dished up seven double-faults with three of them, crucially, in the third and fourth set tiebreakers.
Berdych's serve was only broken once and Wawrinka shaded the Czech by just one point (143-142) throughout the whole match.
"It was really close, for sure. It was a strange game. I don't think we played our best tennis, but we served really well," he said.
"We were really aggressive in our service games. It was going really fast tonight so it was not easy to make some long rallies and to make him work.
"To play a four-set match with three tiebreaks is rare, but I tried to stay really aggressive in the tiebreaks."
It will be Wawrinka's first major final after he lost to Djokovic in five sets in the semi-finals at last year's US Open.
Wawrinka finally reached a major final at his 36th Grand Slam appearance, and becomes only the second Swiss man behind Federer to play in a Slam final.
It was Wawrinka's fourth straight victory over Berdych and his second win over the Czech in three Slams.
Wawrinka won the opening set when Berdych missed an overhead smash on break point in the seventh game, but the Czech levelled the match by taking the second-set tiebreaker.
Both players were unable to break serve and the semi-final was decided by Wawrinka winning the final two tiebreakers to edge home.
Wawrinka hit 18 aces among his haul of 57 winners and won 82 percent of his first-serve points, the same as Berdych.