MELBOURNE, January 16 – It will be an all-Swiss tennis final Down Under on Saturday when Roger Federer squares off against Stan Wawrinka for honours at the Kooyong Classic, a tune-up for next week's Australian Open.
Wawrinka, who won the doubles gold medal with Federer at the Beijing Olympics, will take on his partner in the final after a gutsy 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (1/7), 6-4 win over Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez on Friday.
"It was a tough match today," he said. "But I’m happy to play the final and to play against Roger."
Wawrinka took the first set but suffered a letdown serving for victory in the 10th game of the second, letting the Chilean back into the match. With his serve broken a game later, the world No. 16 found himself at level-pegging.
But the 23-year-old found his way again in the third, closing it out with a break of Gonzalez.
It was a particularly satisfying victory, the Swiss said. "I lost five times before against him. The last time was the French Open when I was leading two sets to love and winning the third set."
Looking forward to the match-up against his Davis Cup teammate and Olympic co-champ, world No. 2 Federer said he was like an "older brother" to Wawrinka on tour.
"It’s good to have a guy who has been around the block and knows how things work and can occasionally give you the advice you need," Federer said.
"It was particularly nice for us to play the Davis Cup, and over the last few years he’s really grown into a good player.
"Obviously, winning the Olympic Games in doubles in Beijing is going to keep us connected for the rest of our lives."
Wawrinka is glad to have a role m
odel to look up to.
"Roger is one of my best friends on the tour. It was nice to stay 10 days with him, to play the doubles and everything (in Beijing). We’ve always practised a lot together.
"He’s someone important for me."
Federer won his two previous matches against Wawrinka — in 2005 in Rotterdam and 2006 in Dubai — and both men will be looking to put the final polish on form for the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.